OUR VIEW: Do not sit idly by; go vote

Published 11:18 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Washington Parish voters will go the polls Saturday in what could be argued is one of the most critical elections in recent memory.

Unfortunately, if history is to provide an accurate barometer, turnout likely will be dreadful, especially considering the importance of the vote and the potentially seismic effect the result will have on the parish for years to come.

Voters will decide whether to approve a .33-cent sales tax increase, which the parish would use to pay state mandated expenses and balance a threadbare budget. Several parish officials have stated publicly that failure could result in severe cutting of services and layoffs, and some have speculated privately that the courthouse may even close for two to three days a week.

Opponents, and they have become more vocal in the closing days, counter that citizens are tax weary, certainly a meritorious point. Rising healthcare costs have already sliced into the average paycheck, and Gov. Jindal is proposing a sales tax hike to replace the state income tax.

Tax has become a three-letter word for most citizens, a fact not lost on local elected officials. They understand the challenge of convincing taxpayers to approve a measure that would shrink already challenged family budgets.

But no matter your political persuasion, no matter your own beliefs, the stakes are far too high to sit this one out. The result, regardless of which side wins, will have a direct impact on every resident of Washington Parish.

Approval results in digging deeper at the cash register, adding one-third of one penny on every dollar spent.

Rejection means cutbacks in parish services, layoffs and potential reduction of courthouse hours. Parish officials are passionate in their message that these are not idle threats, but it’s up to you to discern your own thoughts.

Both sides have spent enormous amounts of time attempting to plead their respective cases. Now it’s time for you to express your opinion in the only place that matters, and that’s at the ballot box.

Silence is apathy, a commodity this parish can no longer afford.