Residents hear of Calcasieu tax proposals up for vote

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Local real estate agent Pat Diamond

said he supports using a 20-year, quarter-cent sales tax to partially

fund a $110 million

plan to expand sewer services in unincorporated areas of Calcasieu

Parish because it could spark economic growth in certain

areas that commercial businesses don’t consider.

Diamond was one of more than a dozen

residents who attended a town hall meeting Tuesday to hear about the

sewer tax proposal

and two parishwide property tax renewals on the April 5 ballot.

The plan calls for extending sewer services along major corridors

in south Lake Charles, Moss Bluff and Carlyss, along with areas

surrounding Sulphur, Westlake, Iowa and DeQuincy.

“It’s going to help development (and) the people who have wanted to bring projects here for a long time, but because there

was no sewer, they just couldn’t do it,” he said.

The expansion would be funded by the

tax, more than $50 million in parish gambling funds and nearly $12

million in state capital

outlay money. If the sales tax is approved, the existing road and

garbage tax levied within the parish, except the Moss Bluff

and Gillis areas, would be reduced from 1.5 cents to 1.25 cents.

Ward 1 residents don’t pay the road and garbage tax.

One resident questioned why the plan does not include expanding sewer services into residential areas, where some 30,000-plus

mechanical sewer systems are being used parishwide. Allen Wainwright, the parish’s public works director, said the initial

plan is “an economic development package,” with plans to expand into residential areas over time.

“We have to start with a backbone

system,” he said. “With future phases and plans, we’ll try to collect

all those 30,000 residential

units. We definitely need to do that, but there’s just no way to

get to that in this first step.”

While Diamond said he is “very anti-tax,” he would rather support a local tax instead of a state or federal tax.

“I can talk to our local officials and

voice my concerns,” he said. “Every dollar that stays here, we get about

75 percent

back in services. Every dollar that goes to Baton Rouge, we get

about 50 percent back, and we get about 25 percent back from

Washington.”

Local resident Johnny Johnson agreed, saying the proposal is a “win-win” for the parish, especially because the road and garbage

tax will be reduced.

“One thing we do lack in the south area of the parish are businesses,” he said. “And businesses will not come without sewer.

It’s a no-brainer.”

Residents also heard about a 10-year, 2.41-mill parishwide property tax renewal to fund the parish’s mosquito control office.

The tax was first approved by voters in 1975.

Another ballot item is a 10-year, 3.16-mill parishwide property tax renewal to pay for operations and services provided by

the parish District Attorney’s Office and the 14th Judicial District Court. The tax was first approved in 1985.

The next two town hall meetings are scheduled for March 17 in Moss Bluff Middle School, 297 Park Road, and March 24 in the

Carlyss Park Recreation Center, 6043 Carlyss Drive. Both meetings will start at 6 p.m.

Online: www.cppj.net/taxinfo.