Supervisor working to find alternate funding

Published 7:00 am Friday, January 9, 2015

County coffers are funded with tax dollars, either from the state or from homeowners.
District I Supervisor for Pearl River County Anthony Hales is rallying for a change that could save homeowners money on their ad valorem taxes during his last year in office.
He has decided not to run for reelection after almost 30 years as a county supervisor. During his last year, he is proposing an extra 1 cent sales tax on all items currently taxed at the 7 percent rate within the city and county. This move is expected to raise revenue the county can use to ultimately reduce the millage rate in the county. During his time in office he has noticed a need for new revenue sources.
“I can not stop trying as long as I’m in office, because something needs to change,” Hales said.
But first the board needs approval from the state to implement the proposed sales tax increase. During Monday’s board meeting, supervisors approved a motion to send a letter to the state to begin the process.
While this idea could amount to nothing, Hales said his plan would help push the county forward if approved.
If implemented, the plan would include written protocols on how the money would be used. Hales said he intends to include language that would separate the money into three categories. The first category would be a rainy day fund, which would not be touched for the first three years to allow it to build up, unless there was a major emergency. After the rainy day fund is built up, no more than 50 percent of it could be spent, allowing it continue to build.
The second category would pay for the county’s capital outlays, projects or to retire debt. The third category would help defer the money currently collected on ad valorem taxes.
By lowering the tax rate, Hales feels homeownership and the number of small businesses would grow.
While eight percent on the dollar may seem high to some residents of Pearl River County who are used to the current seven percent, Hales reminds them that they are paying more in taxes every time they buy prepared food in the city of Picayune, or any item in the neighboring state of Louisiana.
“I’m saying let’s help ourselves,” Hales said.
According to the Louisiana Association of Tax Administrators website, the combined tax rate in Slidell is 8.75 percent. That rate increases if consumers are purchasing items in the neighboring city of Pearl River, La. Their sales tax rate is 9 percent. Looking to buy something at Rooms to Go in St. Tammany Parish? Expect to pay 9.75 percent on that purchase.
In the city of Picayune, and extra one cent has been added to the purchase of prepared food to help retire debt incurred in the renovation of Friendship Park.

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