Sheriff says office needs  to double property tax

St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann said his office needs to nearly double its dedicated property tax millage in order to stop drastic budget reductions.

Pohlmann’s budget has shrunk by more than $2 million, and he’s eliminated 50 positions.

He’s looking to increase the existing property tax millage of 15.68 mills to 30.68 mills in the April election.

Pohlmann said he has 265 employees, the lowest total for the Sheriff’s Office in years.

The core problem is that St. Bernard Parish has lost 30,000 residents since Hurricane Katrina. That has greatly reduced the available sales tax, and those issues have been exacerbated by the overall sluggish economy.

Pohlmann said his department was able to stave off some issues for a time, due to an influx of money in the parish related to disaster recovery and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, but that’s no longer possible.

“It would be difficult to cut the number of employees further without jeopardizing the Sheriff’s Office’s ability to keep St. Bernard safe, our Number 1 responsibility,’’ he said in a statement.

Plaquemines Parish residents already approved a 20-mill property tax increase in December that was dedicated to the parish government. Pohlmann said the tax increase would increase the property tax bill of someone with a $150,000 home by about $10 per month.