WBR sheriff trims budget after proposed sales tax fails - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

WBR sheriff trims budget after proposed sales tax fails

Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB

West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes is taking a hard look at his budget after voters rejected a sales tax increase he proposed.

Industry has been booming in West Baton Rouge Parish. In the last decade several plants have opened along Highway 1, building a big tax base in the parish. However, Sheriff Cazes explained his department's budget doesn't benefit from those businesses immediately.

“I don't get sales tax. They don't pay a penny in West Baton Rouge until the ten year exemption comes off the rolls,” Cazes said.

Court fees, bond fees and federal grants make up just over half of the sheriff's $12 million budget. The rest is revenue based. The tax is 9%. The sheriff said he proposed a half cent sales tax increase to have a cushion in place.

“You don't know from year to year what grants might be cut, how much funding might be cut,” Cazes said.

When the election on March 28 neared, the Tea Party of Louisiana and industry giant Dow Chemical spoke against the proposed tax. An email Dow Louisiana Operators supervisors reportedly sent out to their employees said “the tax isn't good for business.”

“Over the years I have said, when I could I would work within my means as far as what the people gave me in taxes,” Cazes said.

Because the tax failed, Cazes said he is going back to the books to see what he can trim to keep a balanced budget. He said he will not cut patrolmen and detectives, but citizens can expect to see limits to programs like litter abatement, school resource officers and extra security at court.

“Some of the things that we don't have to have that I've had to be nice and help people out, that's probably some of the cuts I will have to make,” Cazes said.

The cuts will take effect on July 1, 2015. The sheriff said he has no plans at this time to bring the tax back up before voters.

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