Tax renewal vital for Richland’s law enforcement

Voters will be asked to decide the fate of a half-cent sales tax renewal for the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office on April 4.

The tax was originally passed in 1989 and is renewed every 10 years

“This is a tax that people have been paying for 20 years,” Sheriff Charles McDonald said. “It’s not a new thing, but without it, we’d have to cut back to bare bones law enforcement.”

The half-cent sales and use tax is expected to bring in approximately $1,080,000 a year to be used for the purpose of providing funding for the operations of the sheriff’s office.

The half-cent tax translates into one cent of tax for every $2 spent ... about $100 of every $20,000 a person spends on taxable items. While this doesn’t sound like much per person, McDonald said the money the tax generates is vital for providing law enforcement in Richland Parish.

“It is a big part of our budget,” McDonald said. “We do a lot of things for youth groups and for the elderly and if we didn’t have that money, we’d have to cut most of those things out.”

McDonald said the tax also is used to pay for much needed training and supplies for basic law enforcement.

“We try not to be wasteful,” he said. “We try to use the taxpayers’ money wisely and it’s helped us be able to recruit and train professional law enforcement officers. We’re proud of hiring and training people who stay here and become part of the community.”

This extends throughout Richland Parish, he noted, pointing out that the funds are also helping the sheriff’s office to expand its presence in the Delhi area with plans for a new substation there.

Without the renewal, there would definitely be a loss of jobs and services performed by the department.

“We even use this for gas and patrol cars,” he said. “If people don’t support the renewal, it would be a devastating loss for our department.”

Early voting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Saturday in the Registrar of Voter’s Office in the basement of the Richland Parish Courthouse in Rayville.

“I would like to ask people to cast their vote and support continued law enforcement in Richland Parish,” he said.

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