Law enforcement financial support on St. John ballot

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — A new sales tax, proposed to help pay for sheriff’s office deputies’ salaries and create revenue for the district attorney’s office’s general funds, will be one item St. John the Baptist Parish voters will be asked to consider in the July 16 election.

The proposal would add a one-fourth cent sales tax, to be split 50/50 between the sheriff’s office and the district attorney’s office, and would go into effect next year.

According to Sheriff Wayne Jones, if the proposal passes, the deputies will receive a monthly raise of $150, adding to $1,800 per year.

“We would receive one-eighth of the sales tax, which would generate $700,000 annually,” Jones said, “My cost to 220 officers will be $500,000.”

Jones said the leftover funds would continue to build, and it will be dedicated only to deputy pay.

The other half of the sales tax will be used to generate funds for the district attorney’s office, to be used at their discretion.

According to Jones, the D.A.’s office receives $450,000 annually from the parish, which the office would return to parish if the sales tax gets voted in.

“(D.A. John) Crum could be more self-sufficient, and not so reliant on the parish,” Jones said, “All agencies could benefit.”

In order to keep the public informed, Jones said he has held about 12 different speaking engagements with different organizations such as the St. John Business Association and the River Region Chamber. Jones said St. John residents would also be receiving a mailout.

The sheriff said he does not expect a large voter turnout due to what he believes was only 157 votes on the absentee ballot. Jones said he also thinks the clerk of court’s office is expecting a 15 percent turnout. Attempts to confirm those figures with the clerk of court’s office were unsuccessful.

In St. Charles Parish, Sheriff Greg Champagne is also asking the public to vote on a similar tax to help provide for pay raises to sheriff’s deputies.

The proposal calls for the public to authorize a levy of a 3.75 mills property tax in order to pay deputies salaries, benefits, and related expenses.

The St. Charles Parish Economic Development Council has publicly endorsed the tax, stating it will aid to ensure the safety of the parish’s residents and businesses.

In a news release, the St. Charles EDC said a low crime rate is “an integral part of our community’s ability to induce economic growth and development.”