opinion

I just saw the commercial of Garret Graves standing in the Washington Street exit on the interstate saying that exit was stupid. No, what’s stupid is him standing in the middle of the interstate. Plus, it’s illegal, and why hasn’t he been arrested? I guess we all know.

Did your mom ever tell you, “If it smells funny, don’t eat it”? The law enforcement funding proposal has several funny odors. Rapides Parish has 63 schools to cover, and it’s costing $3.5 million. That’s $55,000 per school covered. The sheriff does not provide a $48,000 Tahoe. In Livingston Parish, the cost per school officer has been steadily going up from $100,000 to currently $111,000 per Jason Ard. The need for $48,000 Tahoes shows a major lack of respect for the taxpayer. In Livingston Parish, the sheriff’s budget is $30 million currently, funded by a ½ cent sales tax and a 21 mills of property tax. He also gets some of the 1-cent sales tax for parish roads. Is there really a need for $9 million more? Lastly, who paid for the mailing sent out asking for support of this new $9 million tax? I would suspect the taxpayers.

Has anyone else had trouble with the Springfield High School principal? He is very unorganized and unprofessional. What do you think?

I too have been skeptical of the sheriff’s tax proposal. But beware, I received one of the phone calls from a LP officer. He asked me how I planned to vote. I was very honest and voiced my concerns. This officer was clearly irritated with my answer and let me know that he would put me down as a no. The next day, word got back to me that this information was shared with the other officers and I was being talked about. Is this even legal?

It is good our Assessor is upgrading the parish mapping system. It is a shame that values are still set by Good Old Boy system. If we had a fair assessment system, we would not have a sheriff asking for the crazy tax he is looking for.

Voters, look at the wording of the proposed tax for SROs. The 3 words you need to pay close attention to are “Not limited to”. In other words, Ard gets to choose what is done with the $9 million plus dollars collected. They ARE NOT dedicated to SROs. If this is really about our kid’s safety, why not make the funds exclusively for school safety?! I smell a rat and it stinks worse than the landfill in Walker.

Why is it that you can go to jail for drugs and your bond will be higher than someone in there for murder, taking someones life to is a lot more serious than someone hurting themselves.

How is it possible some school bus drivers can pull right up to there home on private drives and pick up there kids and drop them off the at there front porch but mine have to catch the bus in the rain ?is this part of the school board click ? Are does the school board not know about this ?

If you think that the smell from the landfill is bad at Juban Crossing try shopping at the Walker Walmart.

 

ARE WE NOT TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY? My wife and I support most reasonable taxes and are full supporters of the TOPS scholarship program; however, we have serious reservations concerning the new school safety tax being proposed. We all want everyone to be safe, from babies to grandparents, but no one wants to vote for a permanent tax for eternity. I spoke to the Lafayette Parish officials who administer the school safety program for Lafayette Parish. They employ 60 officers in 45 locations, with two officers for each high school. They have tightened their financial belt and do all this for $4 million per year within the existing budget and did not ask voters for one penny in new taxes. Why does our sheriff need approximately $10 million in new taxes for a similar program? I do not understand why it costs $6 million more in Livingston Parish when Lafayette Parish has more students than Livingston Parish (approximately 30,000 students in Lafayette Parish versus approximately 20,000 in Livingston Parish). The initial taxes proposed go way beyond reasonable taxation and questions the accountability and transparency of the money already in our tax system. It also imposes an unnecessary hardship on the poor people of Livingston Parish who will have to pay 11 cents on every dollar they spend for the rest of their lives. The program has problems from the start. Remember, the school safety officers were not able to prevent the shootings in Florida and Texas. For these reasons, we are not able to support the new permanent tax. Maybe a more appropriate name for the new tax is “PERMANENT SOURCE FUND TAX”. You decide, then speak out with your vote with November 6.

This 1/2 cent sales tax the sheriff has on the ballot I am against. I know it is a tugs at the heart strings of all parents and grandparents of school children. Keep our children safe, I get it. But the language in the tax proposal is not specific enough. It will allow the sheriff, in a few years to have a slush fund. He will also use these jobs as political pay offs. I think deputies who will get these SRO jobs will be people who are out of shape not able to work road patrol anymore. SRO deputies will be like the deputies who work at the court house as court room bailiffs and metal detector guards. Again these are political pay off jobs and I don` think old overweight and out of shape deputies can protect our children... Remember the twenty-five percent of the road tax money the voters rededicated in 2006 for the sheriff to construct a new jail. The old jail was too small and the new jail was built to keep from housing prisoners in out of parish jails. Costing the parish council several hundred thousand dollars each year. Well a year after the new jail opened it was full and Livingston Parish prisoners were again being sent to other parish jails. The catch 22 here is who pays for housing Livingston Parish prisoners being housed in other parish jails? The parish council, the money comes from their budget. Why is the jail full? The sheriff takes inmates around 170 to 200 from the state Department of Correction. He gets paid for housing these inmates, makes money that goes into his budget. Great deal for the sheriff send LP inmates to other parish jails, parish council has to pay for them. Take inmates in from the state, money goes into his budget. We pay some of the highest taxes in the US. And i don`t think we are getting wise usage of our tax money. Our taxes keep going up and up and I don`t see things improving. Politicians know one formula tax and spend. I have had enough. I voted early and I voted for term limits, and no to this money grab.

I was just wondering - if this half-cent sales tax passes to put a deputy sheriff at every school, school is just in nine months out of the year. What are all these deputies going to do the other three months? Are they all going to have a car to go to work in to sit in all day long and run the motor or are they going to have to furnish their own transportation seeing as they’re going to the same place every day. It seems like an awful lot. It looks like we have plenty deputies now because every time you get on the road you see one sitting somewhere with their radar out. The sheriff used to never used to worry about radar. I don't believe we have that much problem with speeding that we need deputy sheriffs sitting out there with radars all the time. We've got enough that with the city cops and state police. So I don't think passing this sales tax will be necessary. I don’t think we need it. The chance of someone shooting at a school is so rare, I think the risk is worth taking a chance on rather than spending all this money on more deputies. 

Usually when there are times a message or idea is not real clear, one has to read between the lines to get the real meaning of what is being stated. Not so in the case of Sheriff Ard's proposed perpetual half-cent sales tax to "fund" school resource officers SRO. In this case, in the beginning of the sales pitch, one is told that STUDENT SAFETY should rank as the top priority for voters when they decide on this issue. I say Amen to that, right? Then the verbiage gets so arranged that it takes a second reading from lots of folks to find out where the taxes you pay will come from such as "upon sales, use, lease, rental consumption of tangible property and upon the sale of services within the district. No reading between the lines here---you will be taxed on everything that does not come from your lungs. In my opinion, the verbiage was so written that a lot of folks would get lost in it and not really decipher what was being said. Was this by design? Also, one does not have to read between the lines when it is clearly stated that the tax proposal stipulates the proceeds will be used exclusively for the purpose of providing additional funding for the operations of the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office, including, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, the stationing of Sheriff's deputies in public schools throughout the Parish. Ard states the primary purpose of this program is for SROs, but he also states that this upward of $9 million PER YEAR could (1), help ease the brunt of years of weak tax collection, natural disasters and other hardships (?); (2). provide extra funds for unexpected circumstances; (3). cover the demands on the sheriff's office as the parish grows everyday; (4). if extra funds exist, it would allow extra funding for other needs (?); and somewhere in all the jargon, we are told that most of the security issues on school campuses are from custodial and noncustodial parents who argue with school personnel about retrieving children from school (according to the statement, this happens on a weekly basis). Really? Do we need a SRO to resolve this problem. On seconds thought, maybe one does have to read between the lines or one could just do the math! $9 million annually divided by 55 SROs tells me that student safety is not near the top priority for this perpetual tax proposal. It is in fact a quite lucrative cash stash for the sheriff's administration on an on-going basis. Surely there are smart and effective ways to protect all our children, not just a few children at a time with the ratio of one SRO per entire school campus. But in my opinion, none of these ways would work because they do not warrant billions of excess dollars to be collected ANNUALLY and used as the Sheriff's administration deems. Shameful!

With all the back and forth on the resource officer tax, I decided to call the Sheriff’s office and get some questions answered. I called, and they had a very nice person call me back and answered every question that I had. First, the School Board came to the Sheriff about this tax. They were asking what it would take to get a school resource officer in every school in the parish. A half-cent sales tax was proposed because they felt it would be better than a property tax because everyone who shops in the parish would pay instead of just property owners. The $107,000 figure is what it would take to hire an officer, train him, equip him, his unit, his salary and his benefits. The reason they buy Tahoes instead of cars is they are bare-bones Tahoes, and they are only about $2,000 more than a car. Their vehicles, once they reach 100,000 miles, have to be sold, and the resale on a Tahoe is much more than a car. The officers will not be sitting outside in their units all day. They will be inside interacting with the kids, and in the summer they will be road deputies protecting the parish. This money is not discretionary. It can only be used for resource officers, and at some point in the future, if the resource officers go away, the tax has to go away as well. The person that did the quick check with the Secretary of State’s office apparently didn’t look far enough. Safe Schools for Kids is a legally registered political action committee in good standing, taking legal donations to support the passing of this tax. I doubt anyone will go to another parish to shop because of a half-cent sales tax. I personally have no children in the school system, but I still want all children to be safe. And if we can get an officer in each school, I’m all for it. I wish people would stop putting false information out there or what they have heard when all it takes is a call to the Sheriff’s office to get the facts. I urge everyone that has any questions to call the Sheriff’s office and get them answered. The number I called was 686-2241.

My name is Bobby Allen Achord. As a former law enforcement officer, retired from the State Police 22 years ago. I follow national and state articles about law enforcement. I am 100% for protecting our children in the schools. I have not seen a comprehensive plan from the school board or the sheriffs office to protect our children. I only came out against Jason when I saw that this perpetual (forever) sales tax was being sold on the fears of parents. His own finance officer, ms Felder estimates that the tax will generate millions more dollars than will be needed for the resource officers in the first year. If this tax is passed it will never be repealed and nobody will have oversight over this sheriff or future sheriffs as they will have a multi million dollar slush fund to spend as they want. A simple solution would be to vote this tax down forcing the sheriff to use some of his already expansive surplus to pay off duty deputies and city police officers like the EBR school does ($30/hr). If Jason and the school board really cared about the safety of our children they would have found a way to have on duty deputies, off duty deputies, reserve deputies stationed at all the schools in the parish on the first day of school.

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(1) comment

CajunJedi

Bravo! After reading today’s Call and Comment, it appears as though people are catching on to Sheriff Ards’ true motives behind this MASSIVE NEW TAX. He is attempting to fatten the budget of his department. This is NOT a tax for school resource officers! Do NOT let him fool you!! Vote NO!

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