Parish President Layton Ricks

Parish President Layton Ricks

The road started early, so to speak.

In the Spring of 2019, Parish President Layton Ricks began to rally his troops to campaign for the one-cent sales tax renewal - 75% of which goes to DPW and the parish's road program, and the other 25% goes to fund the parish's detention center - which he deemed 'vital' to parish services.

He went so far, in April, to call it the 'lifeblood' of parish services.

However, a political schism ran between the parish president's office and several council members. While the council agreed that the tax was paramount to parish services, they believed there should be more transparency in the way the funds were spent.

Ricks eventually won those members over, including District 2 Councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert who was first to make his opinion on the road tax public. The parish president said that if the council would like to reform the program, that can work, but it's best to renew it first so that the Department of Public Works and the road overlay program will continue to function.

The council still believed that the spring ballot was not the right place for a tax so important after a failed attempt in the spring to pass mosquito abatement in two districts - 2 & 3 - with just 13.2% turnout.

A move to the fall would place the measure on a ballot with the presidential election. 2016's campaign for the Commander-in-Chief's position pulled an 80% voter turnout (79,000 registered voters in Livingston Parish), with over 18,000 voting early.

Over 13.6% voted early for this year's gubernatorial election, which outpaced the entire voting percentage for mosquito abatement.

The issue of moving the tax reached a head when District 9 Councilman Shane Mack wanted to open the floor to discussing taking 3 of the 10 mill library tax and rededicating it to drainage. The parish council has to approve measures for the ballot, including taxes, and by proposing a push for new revenue for drainage (and failing) - Mack pushed the vote to place the one-cent sales tax for roads into limbo.

Recently, though, Ricks said that he is 'OK' with putting the one-cent tax renewal on the fall ballot. 

In normal years, the tax generates roughly $13.5 million for roads and DPW, while a 5-mill tax chunks in another $2.5 million. That usually leaves $4.5-$5 million for the road overlay program, however a bond payment drags that portion down to $1.5 million.

Parish government convinced the council to forego the road program in 2017 to shoot for grant money in 2018 and 2019. The gamble paid off and, instead of using $4.5 million over those three years - the council was able to use almost $16 million in grants to overlay double the roads in 2018 and 2019.

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