Last Modified: Tuesday, December 03, 2013 9:29 PM
WELSH — The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday voted to put a new 10-year, half-cent sales tax on the April 5 ballot.
The tax would help fund recreation maintenance, operations and improvements.
The council also considered a half cent general sales tax for the town’s general fund to help with a revenue shortfall, but called for the recreation tax after hearing from concerned residents, most who supported a recreation tax.
“We are all concerned about recreation and our children,” Mayor Carolyn Louviere said. “We come form a small town that is very limited in what we can do.”
The tax would generate nearly $200,000 annually for the town’s parks and recreation department which currently has an annual budget of $153,000.
Alderman Charles Drake said the funds would be used to “help support recreation and getting it where it needs to be.”
“We have been struggling for years,” Drake said. “Our kids are our future and it’s time we put our money where our mouth is.”
The town could use the funds to improve the tennis courts, get better sports equipment for youth and maintain its walking trails and ball fields, he said. The town is also looking at installing water splash pads for children.
The tax would also help keep youth in Welsh for recreation. Currently youth are having to drive to Jennings, Lafayette and Lake Charles to play tennis and participate in recreation programs not available locally, he said.
“I’m 100 percent for the recreation department and don’t know why anyone would vote no,” resident Brooke Luntsford said voicing support for the proposal. “I think a recreation tax would be wonderful because we need some more things in town for our kids.”
Resident Vickie Ford disagreed saying now is not a time to call for a new tax.
“I don’t agree with any tax with the economy so depressed,” Ford said, adding that any shortfall in the town’s budget should be a “creative endeavor” with businesses and schools helping to generate taxes instead.
“I know times are tough, but I just think the investment we are going to make with our kids and adults in recreation is worth it,” former physical education teacher and coach Penny Hayes. “I don’t see how we can’t push it forward.”
Hayes said there is “so much” that can be done with recreation and volunteered her time to help with programs.