CCST: Vote “NO” on March Tax Renewal

Whereas the mission of the Concerned Citizens of St.

Tammany (CCST) is Good Governance, which includes

transparency and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

Whereas the Jail & Justice Center original sales tax

initiative (1998), fully funded the principal and interest

necessary to “Acquire and Construct” and provide for their

‘Maintenance and Operations’.

Whereas the Parish has before proposed a renewal of the

original, on April 9th, 2016 which failed, followed by a

version of 10 years versus 20 and a lower tax which also

failed on April 29th, 2017, now voters must vote a third

time. It is to be noted that on December 1, 2017 the Parish

hired LR3 Consulting for $77,800 of your tax dollars to

develop a strategy to re-brand and educate the citizens on

the Jail & Justice Center Taxes.

Whereas the Parish claims the Justice Center tax is only

for “Maintenance and Operations”, both renewal tax

proposals retain language and money to “Acquire and

Construct” despite the original construction being fully

paid by March, 2018. Further, the parish says it may need

to build a parking garage and a storage building. CCST

feels these are “wants” not “needs” and, if pursued at all,

should be voted on separately by the taxpayers.

Whereas Parish officials claim to have implemented cost-

saving measures and a standstill operating budget, claiming

“dire consequences” if this tax does not pass. CCST has

studied the Parish finances, prior year performances, and

met with Parish administration about these issues.

Whereas CCST has concluded that the Parish has not

exercised reasonable financial prudence. The

administration has recently granted double-digit pay and

benefit raises, and those lucrative raises have to be paid

into perpetuity. The Parish has had exponential growth in

its legal staff. Belt-tightening should come before such

things as a fitness center and private baths for the

administration, unnecessary renovations, and the Cultural

Art Center. Further, reducing operating hours at the St.

Tammany Parish Fishing Pier or Camp Salmen Nature Park; or

the cancellation of the annual Holiday of Lights, appear to

be steps which prudent financial management could avoid.

Whereas the Parish has proposed rededicating 10% of the

Justice Center tax to fund the Specialty Courts. Nationwide

research indicates that such Specialty Courts have

inconsistent results regarding incarceration and recidivism

rates, and face challenging fiscal and staffing issues.

Further, we believe that such courts should be approved by

the voters.

Whereas Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the

United States, and new sentencing alternatives are expected

to reduce inmate populations, and recognizing that the

state has reduced inmate populations by over 5000 inmates

in the past five years, there is less if any need for a

local prison.

Whereas the primary functions of local law enforcement

should be the safety of the community, not the operation of

prison systems.

Whereas Louisiana Department of Corrections operates

facilities that provide higher standards of inmate services

to reduce recidivism such as drug rehabilitation, child

rearing, occupational skills, conflict management,

literacy, in a more secure environment. These functions

are not available at the St Tammany jail, and our state

services are already funded in part by taxes from the

citizens of St Tammany Parish;

It is thus Resolved on this day of February 15, 2018, that

the Board members of the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany

recommend that, March 24, 2018, citizens of St. Tammany

Parish reject the sales tax renewals.

Respectfully, CCST Officers, Board and Advisors