Parish tax propositions fail

Published 9:05 am Monday, April 8, 2013

Washington Parish voters on Saturday overwhelmingly rejected a proposed .33 percent sales tax, with the fallout likely to include cutbacks in services and layoffs.

More than 60 percent of the voters rejected the measure, which would have raised about $1.4 million a year that would have helped balance the parish budget. With all votes in, 62 percent of voters, or 2,309, voted against the measure, with 38 percent – 1,663 – voting in favor.

“Very disappointing, very, very disappointing,” a somber parish President Richard Thomas said from the courthouse late Saturday night. “I expected it to be close. I had no idea how we would come out. I guess I didn’t do my job letting people know taxes in Washington Parish are not as high as Tangipahoa Parish or St. Tammany Parish.”

Even tax opponent Beth Mizell said she was surprised by the large margin of defeat.

“I think people were going to vote before they even knew what (tax) was going to be on the ballot,” Mizell said. “People had ‘no’ in their heads. It didn’t matter what the tax was going to be.

“They’re just tired.”

Parish officials have warned of major consequences in the event of the tax being defeated. How immediate those cutbacks will take effect is uncertain, Thomas said.

“I don’t know where else I can cut back but, of course, we’re going to have to do so,” he said. “I don’t know the outcome of this. Will have four to five people to be laid off. It will be a struggle to manage this parish with as few people as we have.”

Also Saturday, a proposal that would have rededicated a portion of the sales tax from Franklinton to the parish was also defeated. With all votes in the measure failed, 2,230-1,736.

For a complete wrap-up of Saturday’s election and more reaction on the results read The Daily News on Wednesday.