GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - The Gonzales city council voted unanimously (5-0) to approve the proposed half cent sales tax on Monday, May 8. The tax will be used to help fund fire and police departments, as well as for the construction of a new civic center.
The vote clears the way for the new tax to be put before voters this fall. The tax would help fund the fire and police departments, as well as help build a new civic center. Mayor Barney Arceneaux says those three things are vital for the growing community.
"No, the vote did not surprise me," Arceneaux said. "These are the things that we're looking at and the quality of life that we want to maintain and continue to bring to our citizens."
Not everyone though, is on board with the plan. A single resident spoke out against the measure. While not necessarily against the tax, William Prestridge says council members could have done a better job letting voters know everything the money would be used for.
"All of a sudden, what they're going to put on the ballot is all kind of different things," said Prestridge.
Another concern Prestridge has is if the tax, combined with money promised from FEMA, would even generate enough funds to construct a new civic center. "The way they talk, it don't sound like it. It's going to be quite a few millions of dollars," he added.
When asked where the additional money needed for the project would come from, Arceneaux said the city is already in talks with other sources if it comes to that.
"Well certainly, we want to be positive on this thing and we're certainly hoping that it will pass, but that's the thing that we're a little bit concerned about and we're still in talks right now with the federal government," said Arceneaux.
While Arceneaux admits they do not yet have all the answers, he says the new tax is a proactive step and something his city desperately needs.
"We were used to a certain amount of money coming forward and that's not exactly there now," he added. "We're hoping that they understand why we're doing this. As elected officials, we want what's good and what's right for our citizens and on October 14th, we'll see."
The measure still needs to be approved by the bond commission and passed by voters on October 14 before it is final. If successful, the new tax will be implemented on January 1, 2018.