Council postpones sales tax election

Peter Silas Pasqua

The city council tabled a resolution after a public hearing calling for a special election for a half-cent sales tax during its regular meeting Tuesday.

The action came at the suggestion of John Rodgers, executive director of the city's Downtown Development District.

Rodgers said he felt additional time would be needed to inform city residents on details of the tax proposal by holding a series of public meetings.

Several council members, who are facing re-election in the fall, expressed relief when voting to postpone the issue.

The municipal half-cent sales tax increase would be used for capital outlay projects, a multipurpose community center, riverfront development and downtown development's operational activities and building revitailization, Rodgers has said.

While generating an additional $450,000 annually, it would increase the sales tax rate inside the city to 9 percent. Under the current 8.5 percent tax structure, the city collects 2 percent.

The state gets 4 percent, the School Board gets 2 percent, and the West Ascension Hospital District collects one-half of 1 percent.

City attorney Chuck Long said the proposal had to be presented to the state bond commission by July 14 to be placed on the ballot.

In other news the council discussed security requirements regarding the rental of the Lemann Memorial Center.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan said potential customers had to cancel events on several occasions because of lack of security.

The city does not operate its own police force, instead contracting for law enforcement services with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office.

A representative from the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, which the city contracts for law enforcement services said factors deciding the number of deputies required for an event include the type of event, expected crowd size, sale of alcohol and whether the event was invitation or paid admission.

Deputies that work the event are off-duty and are paid volunteers.

Long advised council members that the city needs specific rules addressing the number of security guards needed at events and to negotiate a contract with the sheriff to staff the events when the city approves them.

"You put the mayor in a bad position," Long said. "There are no rules."

Councilman Tony Huey said the city's rules should allow for use of private security protection.

In other action, the council granted permission to re-advertise for bids to renovate a 1920s-era school building for use as the permanent home of the River Road African American Museum.

Last month, the council rejected a bid that came in over budget and incomplete.

In another matter the council discussed the authority the city's Planning and Zoning Commission has.

Councilman Charles Brown said an addition to Hadarian Place was approved by the commission without the city engineer's approval.

In other news, the council received bids from Scott's Lawn Care and Anner Bradford for grass cutting.

The council also discussed the use of portable on demand storage units within the city limits.

In another matter, Sullivan informed the council that Steve Nosacka has resigned from LMGA.