New Orleans, La -- In St. Bernard Parish where registered voters are a week away from casting a ballot on increasing property taxes, some say they already know how they will vote.
Homeowner David Quarterman says he's aware the money will go towards funding the St Bernard Parish's Sheriff's Department. He's also aware its operating with fewer tax dollars. But the homeowner says he is still against any tax increase.
"Were being taxed a lot and people keep talking about more taxes and its just part of the new economy. But I have to make cuts so everybody got to make cuts as well right?" said the property owner. A few blocks away another voter though says the taxes are necessary.
"Crime is every where. We need the taxes because we need to protect our property,' said voter Jerlyn Smith.
If passed, the 15 mills property tax for ten years will fund the Sheriff's office and bring in an estimated 4.5 million dollars yearly. Sheriff James Pohlmann says on a home assessed at a value of 150 thousand with a homestead exemption that translates to about less than ten dollars a month in tax payments. He says the taxes are needed to stop any more major cutbacks. "We are already cutting it to the bone at this point. I think you would see impact in service if I have to go back and cut deeper than that," said Pohlmann.
Pohlmann says fewer taxes are coming in to the parish because St Bernard has yet to fully recover since Hurricane Katrina. Yet he says his deputies remain busy responding to calls especially those involving illegal drugs.
Next Saturday's proposal to increase taxes comes just months after voters in the parish approved another property tax to help fund the Parish's fire department. It maybe why some people maybe reluctant to vote so soon again on another property tax hike, however leaders say its necessary. Parish President David Peralta says people have to realize the costs of providing all government services have increased so more taxes are needed to pay for them. "Our fringe benefits costs are higher. Our insurance is higher, costs for fuel for vehicles for is higher; so this is a necessary evil unfortunately," said Peralta.
Voters will have the final say next Saturday April 6th on whether the Sheriff's department receives the increase it says it badly needs to protect the parish.
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