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Caddo Commission moves on from Saturday's tax defeat - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Caddo Commission moves on from Saturday's tax defeat

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SHREVEPORT, La. -
Caddo Parish commissioners began moving ahead Monday from a second tax defeat at the polls.
Fewer voters turned out Saturday than last October for the Caddo Parish Commission's property tax election, but this time the handful who did were more decisive in their rejection of the $23 million proposal. 
At a Monday work session, President Doug Dominick told fellow commissioners that voters have spoken and he looked forward to working with the administration "to do the best we can'' without additional revenues to take care of construction needs. On the agenda for formal adoption later this month is consideration of millage rates on existing property taxes. With the defeat Saturday, commission tax millage rates will roll back from 1.75 overall to 1.50. 
Much of the opposition to the proposed tax -- which would extended existing rates -- was that the commission has sufficient reserve dollars to handle projects such as a new roof for the parish jail. The commission has at least $48 million from oil and gas revenues accumulated over the past five years. 
"Those on the other side got their message out better than we did,'' said Commissioner Michael Williams. Now the commission can't approach the voters for another four years.
"When the sheriff and the DA come to us (for money)....now what do we do?" Tapping what he called the rainy day fund is "not the way to go." 
Tax supporters on the commission, and the parish administrator, Woody Wilson, wanted those reserves available to use in industrial recruitment. Already the commission has supplied funds to buy the old General Motors plant and has put money into workforce development. Others argue the funds could be used for some sweeping project, such as a parishwide water system to meet growing needs and fragile aquifers.
Less than 10,000 of the parish's 165,690 voters bothered to show up across the parish Saturday, but 77 percent of them voted against the $23 million tax. Last October the turnout was 6.3 percent and the margin of defeat was only 59 votes.  
On Sunday following Saturday's defeat, Wilson pointed to other parishes that have used up all or most of their oil and gas earnings.
"They paid as you go," Wilson said. "They paid for big projects, and they don't have that money anymore."
 "If I was a business person and I was taking my business somewhere, I wouldn't want to take my business to a community where there are no resources because that community will have to maintain its infrastructure of roads or whatever that I may use," Wilson said.

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