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Story Archives: Winnsboro taxes at legal limit
|Winnsboro taxes at legal limit|
It will take an act of the state Legislature for the city of Winnsboro to put a sales tax increase before the voters because of an obscure law enacted years ago which caps the sales tax in the city.
Wes Shafto, an attorney from Monroe who advised the city in 2007 when the street tax was approved, told the Winnsboro City Council at its regular meeting on Jan. 22 that Franklin was one of a handful of parishes which has a cap on the amount of sales taxes municipalities can levy.
"You're tapped out on your sales taxes," Shafto said. "Currently with 1.5 percent sales tax you are up to your limit under the current legislation."
The council voted to remedy the situation by asking local legislators to sponsor a bill to exempt Winnsboro from the ruling and allow a sales tax increase to go before the people.
"That would be your fix, to approach one of your legislators and ask them to put legislation in the next session as a local option bill," Shafto said.
He said the town of Baskin had a local option bill passed a few years ago to allow it to increase the sales tax.
The council authorized Shafto to prepare the documents necessary to present the local option bill to the state legislature in time for the spring session in Baton Rouge.
Once approved by the House and Senate, the way will be paved for the issue to go before the voters, probably in the fall of this year.
With the amount of the proposed tax yet to be determined, the proceeds would go to city operations.
"As the auditor pointed out, we are on borrowed time," said Mayor Jack Hammons. "We are obligated to look out for the future (of Winnsboro). I believe the people understand the amount of service we give them."
Police chief Lester Thomas gave his monthly report to the council, saying there was a rise in burglaries – all eight of which had been solved – that he attributed to young people with too much time on their hands.
"Most (burglars) are juveniles who have nothing to do but break into things," Thomas said.
He noted guns were often taken and sold for cash.
The council approved the hiring of a new police officer, based upon recommendation of Thomas, but only after discussion about the hiring process.
Background checks are performed on all potential candidates for police officers, and those with felony convictions are disqualified.
The council agreed that in the future prospective officers be reviewed by the council's police liaison committee, comprised of council members Betty Johnson and Craig Gill.