A proposed sales tax for the parish jail and a proposal to renew a library system property tax are on the Oct. 19 ballot in Tangipahoa Parish.
Early voting starts Saturday and ends Oct. 12, excluding Sunday.
The 30-year, half-cent sales tax for the parish jail, if passed, is expected to generate about $8.67 million a year.
The sales tax proposal calls for the proceeds to go either to renovating the existing jail or replacing it with a new one.
Sheriff Daniel Edwards said engineers believe it is more cost-effective to build a new jail.
The existing jail, built in 1980, can hold 526 inmates, Edwards said. Plans for a new jail, expected to cost about $42 million, call for 856 beds.
Edwards said crime in the parish, particularly property crime, has increased along with the growing population.
Constant maintenance issues on the old jail cost the parish about $1.4 million a year, he said.
“I think there will be a reduction in crime and a sense of quality of life being improved in Tangipahoa Parish” if the tax passes and the new jail is built, the sheriff said.
Tangipahoa Parish Councilman Nicky Muscarello said he opposes the proposed jail tax because of the 30-year burden it puts on taxpayers.
Muscarello voted Aug. 12 against a cooperative endeavor agreement between the Parish Council and the Sheriff’s Office that paved the way for the tax proposal.
Muscarello said shoppers will be deterred from Tangipahoa Parish if they have to pay higher sales taxes.
“I’ll go to Covington to shop” if this tax passes, he said.
Muscarello said the parish does not need another jail. He said 526 beds is enough.
“I don’t want to add the burden to the people,” he said. “If there’s another way to do it, let’s look at it.”
LIBRARY TAX: Tangipahoa Parish residents can also vote on whether to renew a 10-year, 2.81-mill property tax dedicated to the parish’s library system. The tax generates about $1.4 million a year to maintain the library branches.