Chamber takes neutral position in St. John Parish ballot items

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 18, 2005

Urges strong voter turnout today

LAPLACE — The River Region Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Committee expressed a neutral position on the St. John School Board proposals.

According to their statement, “The Committee has reviewed this proposal and we have not taken a formal position either in favor of or in opposition to same.”

The School Board proposes to raise $20 million to finance various construction projects and to renew 6.0 mills of property taxes to increase teacher salaries.

“We certainly support the School Board in their continuing efforts to improve education for the students of St. John Parish. Producing a qualified, well-educated workforce is critical to the economic development of the River Parishes. This must be a high priority of the St. John School System.”

The Chamber’s statement continued, “The St. John Parish School Board proposal does not require new taxes; it does require realignment of some existing property taxes, which are set to expire shortly. The businesses and industries in St. John Parish currently pay the majority of the property taxes; therefore it is important that you review this proposal for its effect on the community and on your business.”

The statement continued that “his proposal dramatically demonstrates the need for parish-wide fiscal reform and more interagency collaboration and revenue sharing to address the prioritized needs of the entire community.”

As to the law enforcement sales tax proposals, the Chamber took a similar, neutral stance.

According to a statement released Thusday, “The Sheriff and District Attorney will each share equally the proceeds of this ?% sales tax increase. The Sheriff reports

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that he will use this new revenue stream to fund raises for his deputies. This will provide an incentive for them to remain with the Sheriff’s Department and thus improve public safety of Parish residents and businesses. The District Attorney reports that he will use this revenue stream to stabilize his budget and allow the Parish to reduce funding his office by approximately $400,000.”

The statement continued, “Both proposals are devoted to improving public safety in St. John the Baptist Parish and we can certainly support that effort. In fact we recognize and appreciate the fact that a high quality of life, which includes a low crime rate, is an integral part of the community’s ability to induce economic growth and development.”

The Chamber’s statement added: “We also realize the important role that the tax structure plays in the community’s ability to foster business development. All businesses, large and small, are struggling to remain competitive in today’s environment. This additional cost of doing business will impact the business climate in St. John Parish. Local businesses provide job opportunities for St. John Parish residents, as well as providing most of the revenue for it’s public agencies. Therefore, it is important that St. John Parish remain an attractive community for local businesses and for businesses considering relocation.”

The statement added: “It is because of this dichotomy – support public safety, not increasing taxes – that we have not taken a formal position. This also dramatically demonstrates the need for parish-wide fiscal reform and more interagency collaboration and revenue sharing to address the prioritized needs of the entire community.”

The Chamber urged the business owners/operators of St. John Parish, to be informed on this proposal and its effect on the community, and added, “We also encourage you to be an active participant in this process and exercise your right, privilege and obligation to vote in this important election.”