Sheriff hopes to boost deputies salary with new tax
By Paul Kedinger
LSN STAFF WRITER
CROWLEY – “We don’t want to put a burden on the public,” says Sheriff Wayne Melancon as he explains
a special election on July 19 in which he is asking for voter approval of a 9 mill tax over five years.
The sheriff points out this tax proposal is only for five years, while most tax propositions are for at least ten years.
In January 1997, Melancon’s predecessor Ken Goss won approval for a one-half cent sales tax, coupled with a promise to drop a seven mills tax then on the books.
The voters approved the sales tax and Sheriff Goss kept his promise.
“Had we kept the seven mills and the half-cent sales tax,” Sheriff Melancon says, “it would be approximately what we asking for now.”
“It like asking for a renewal for only five years,” he remarks.
Sheriff Melancon says he is committed to applying 70 percent of the revenues from this tax proposition to the deputies. The tax is expected to generate $1.9 million annually.
“It’s desperately needed and deserved by the deputies,” says Melancon.
He points out that the base salary for deputies has not increased since 1997.
“We’re losing deputies every day to other departments,” notes Sheriff Melancon. “We need to raise salaries.”
“We hire them, train them, get them certified, and then they go to departments that pay them more,” remarks Melancon, who understands the deputies’ desire to advance themselves.
In addition to boosting base salaries and longevity pay, Sheriff Melancon says there is a need to hire four more deputies in the patrol division.
“The people realize we need more deputies and the deputies we currently have work very hard,” says the sheriff.
The 9 mill tax would be homestead exempt, meaning homeowners who reside in home valued at $75,000 would not pay any increased property tax.
Homeowners whose property is valued between $75,000 and $125,000 would pay $45 more in taxes, while homes valued between $75,000 and $150,000 would pay $67.50 more. Owners of homes valued between $175,000 and $75,000 would pay $90.00 more, while the added tax bill would be $112,50 for $200,000 to $75,000. The bill for 100 acres of farm land would be $25 more and $50.40 more for 200 acres of farm land.
The Sheriff’s Department also has been faced with rising costs for gasoline and other day-to-day expenses.
While curtailing fuel expenses where possible, Sheriff Melancon also knows that his patrol units need to work 24 hours, seven days a week. Even with belt-tightening moves, the department’s fuel bill is currently over $42,000 higher than the same period last year. The total fuel bill from May 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008 was $254,755.83.
“This tax won’t affect me personally,” remarks Melancon, “because my salary is set by the state.
He emphasized, “This is for the people who help our residents day and night.”