Sheriff will ask for millage in October to fund new jail

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal said he plans to put a millage proposal on the ballot in October, with the funds dedicated to building a new jail.

Seal said he is uncertain about the millage he will ask voters to approve but said it could be about 8 ¼ mills, which would generate a little more than $10 million annually. Seal, the parish’s longtime assessor before running for sheriff in 2012, said an 8 ¼ millage increase would cost homeowners about $20.63 annually.

He said his plans are to build a facility to replace the aging jail in Franklinton, which is costly to maintain and sits on a flood plain. Seal hopes to build a jail that would house at least 250 inmates.

Additionally, his plans are to house state and possibly federal inmates that would generate income that he said would be used to give raises to his deputies. Currently, the starting pay for deputies with the responsibility of guarding prisoners is $9 per hour.

Patrol deputies start at an average of $10 to $12 per hour, Seal said.

“I think that’s a travesty,” he said. “I’m not going to ask the people to give this Sheriff’s Office not one cent to go to fund our office. I will ask the people of this parish to do a millage for us to build a jail and then let me clean this parish up of the hoodlums and knuckleheads, get them off the streets. and let me work with state government where I can probably keep 30 to 50 inmates to raise a little money that I can pay my deputies a decent salary.”

Voters could be voting on two tax increases in the fall. Washington Parish President Richard Thomas said the parish will ask voters to approve either a sales tax increase or a millage increase.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed .33 percent tax increase that would have gone to the general fund this past Saturday.

“I can’t control what (Thomas does),” Seal said. “I controlled that the first time and let somehow else have his shot (this past election). I think it’s my turn now.”