Iberia Parish voters to decide fate of Nov. sales tax for road repairs

Posted at 11:13 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 00:13:14-04

Iberia Parish voters will decide the fate of a new tax proposition during the November election.

That tax would help pay for road improvements.

The proposal for that tax passed easily at Wednesday night’s meeting. But some council members say, a tax is not the solution to the parish’s road problems.

"It may not be the perfect solution but it’s the best thing we came up with together," said one councilwoman.

That solution, a 3/4 cent sales tax, is now in the hands of Iberia Parish voters.

If approved in November, the tax would fund repairs for almost 400 miles of roads in the unincorporated areas.

"It’s absolutely terrible, you know, you have delivery trucks going down, and bouncing all over the place. We have roads in very, very bad condition. We still have gravel roads in Iberia Parish and we want to see those roads hard surfaced," said parish president Larry Richard.

Councilman Ricky Gonsoulin was one of three council members to vote against the tax.

He wants the council to find other ways to fund road repairs.

"Definitely the problem in Iberia Parish has been for years, the roads and no dedicated funding for the roads. And I think that is a viable solution moving forward but I think there’s also other solutions and rededicating of millages first before we request sales tax," said Gonsoulin.

Richard says tonight’s resolution allows voters to decide how they want to pay for those repairs.

"We want to give the people of Iberia Parish an opportunity to voice their opinion to see if they want to invest into the infrastructure by better resurfacing the roads that we have," he said.

Right now, the state has a one cent sales tax. Richard says lawmakers are talking to reduce that saying this tax would not come too high of a cost to tax payers

"The state of Louisiana has a temporary sales tax which is one cent. It appears that they’re going to reduce that, they can perhaps reduce that one cent down to a quarter of a tax. And if that’s the case, we wouldn’t really have a new tax," he said.

Richard also said the tax and the road repairs it would bring are necessary to attract new businesses to the parish.

"We have to get this parish in a position to bring more businesses and more rooftops into this parish and the infrastructure that we currently have is deplorable. I’m not a tax person, I own businesses and at the end of the day, Iberia Parish is my home and I want to do the best that I can to help the people," he said.

If approved on November 6, that tax would raise around $3.3 million annually.

Richard said his office already has a priority list of roads that would be repaired if the tax is passed.