I-TEAM: Livingston Road Rage - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

I-TEAM: Livingston Road Rage

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The road tax in Livingston Parish began in 1997 and in 2006 it was extended until 2021. In 2006 voters decided to send 25 percent of the tax to a fund for a new jail and keep 75 percent of the tax going toward the roads.

Millions of dollars spent by tax payers to smooth over one of Livingston Parish's most contentious issues- roads. The 9News I-TEAM pulled records going back six years to see where the tax money is going.

"It was time to get somebody in. Do an audit-- an independent auditor to come in and do it and see exactly where everything was being spent," said parish councilman Randy Rushing.

Livingston parish councilman Randy Rushing said he's beyond upset about where road tax money is actually going. He said the audit approved by the Louisiana legislative auditor raises several questions.

One example: more than $16,000 in road tax money paid for office supplies from 2007 to 2010.

"When they pulled that lever in their mind they were voting for roads and roads only," said parish councilman Thomas Watson.

Councilman Thomas Watson said Parish President Mike Grimmer's office is playing word games with tax money when it comes to maintaining roads.

"They're making the stretch that, "well if we don't buy the stamps to the pay bill for the asphalt that we bought to fill the pothole then we can't perform the maintenance'," explained Watson.

"We have done absolutely nothing that the people didn't vote for, absolutely nothing," said Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer.

Grimmer defended the way his administration is spending almost $9 million in road tax money each year. He said the package voters approved in 2006 gives his office plenty of leeway.

Another expenditure drawing criticism from 2007 to 2010 was $15,000 in "road fund money" that went to Community Coffee.

"I can't justify $15,000 going to coffee. I have not seen that number and I would have to get with Faulk and Winkler to even visualize that. $15,000 worth of coffee at DPW is a lot of coffee. And I just find that number to be very strange," said Grimmer.

The auditor said, "Although the expenditures meet legal requirements, these spending decisions are a matter of policy and the parish should decide whether these activities meet your expectation as to the use of these dedicated resources."

"We present the budget. The council approves the budget. The council since this audit has done absolutely nothing to change anything," said Grimmer.

"I voted against one of his budgets when all of this was coming about. So it's not that everybody's agreeing with everything being done," said Rushing.

Several members of the Livingston Parish council said they plan on changing the way the road money is spent. Some of those changes could come as early as their next meeting.

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