Voters approve sheriff’s millage
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 22, 1998
Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / July 22, 1998
LAPLACE – Voters in St. John the Baptist Parish turned out in low numbersSaturday to approve renewal of the St. John Sheriff’s Office millage by acomfortable margin.
Voter turnout was 20.1 percent, according to St. John Parish Clerk ofCourt Harold Montegut Jr.
On the ballot was the proposed renewal of the sheriff’s office’s 16.08mills, which makes up half of Sheriff Wayne L. Jones’s operating budget. In addition,voters approved a 1-mill increase, dedicated to the retirement fund for employees.
Also, the voters agreed to change the sheriff’s millage to a no-sunset financial plan.
Previously, the sheriff’s office had to return to voters at least every 10 years for renewal of the operating millage. Now, voters will not have to vote on thatmatter again, unless an increase is desired.
“There’s no reason to believe we won’t need it 10 years from now,” Chief Harold Klibert noted.
The sheriff’s millage was approved 3,807 to 1,303, a margin of 75 percent to 25 percent.
Official figures were unchanged Tuesday, as voting machines were opened and visually inspected by the parish clerk of court.
“The new machines print the vote directly, with no human error in reading it,” Montegut added.
However, as Klibert observed, the voter turnout was lower than expected.
“But the outcome is what’s important,” he added.
Jones, he continued, is “quite pleased it passed,” and added that passage gave the sheriff’s office “a comfort level to continue with programs.”Klibert noted, “We’re very happy we don’t have to sit down now and figure out how to try again to pass it on the next ballot, and we’re especially happy we don’t have to try and figure who gets laid off and what services will be cut.”The 1-mill addition frees up funds from the sheriff’s General Fund to match employee retirement contributions. Now, that money will be channeled more directlyinfo law enforcement while the millage matches employee contributions.
That 1 mill also means an additional $2.50 to the tax bill of a taxpayerwith a $100,000 home, Klibert said. Altogether, the sheriff’s millage now makesup $43 of that same taxpayer’s bill.
“It’s sensible, if you look at it,” Klibert added.
A total of 14 other sheriff s offices have similar millage arrangements to provide an ongoing sense of security as to basic funding.
The total millage in St. John the Baptist Parish is now 122 mills, placingthem ahead of St. Charles Parish’s current 90 mills and St. James Parish’s current 89mills. The25-mill school board proposition would have hiked that total of 147 mills.
Klibert also noted the fixed funding should help make this sheriff s office more competitive in attracting quality professional law enforcement officers.
However, he added, competition from area major industry in pay and benefits means some may leave regardless.
“Sometimes, you have to put aside what you want to do for the benefit of your family,” Klibert said.
Meanwhile, he added, “We always try to improve the salaries and benefits of our personnel.”
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