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|Kostelka open to tax for recreation|
The people of western Ouachita Parish should be allowed to vote on a sales tax measure to support recreational activities in west Ouachita if that is what the people want to do.
That's the opinion of state Sen. Bob Kostelka, whose senatorial district includes much of western Ouachita.
"If the people want it, let them vote on it," said Kostelka, R-Monroe. "A sales tax is a fairest kind of tax."
Kostelka was referring to an effort by the West Ouachita Recreation District. The recreation district wants approval from the Legislature to hold an election in which voters would decide whether to levy up to a one-third cent sales tax for the district to pay for its operations and other activities. Revenue generated by a sales tax also could pay for the construction of a new recreational complex in western Ouachita.
The recreation district asked Rep. Frank Hoffmann to introduce the sales-tax bill in the upcoming regular legislative session. The measure is needed because state law does not allow recreation districts to levy sales taxes to pay for its activities or operations.
The recreation district also is looking at a property tax measure to fund it.
Recreation district officials, though, say they would not entertain asking voters to approve both a sales tax and a property tax.
Either way, voter approval would be needed to levy a sales tax or a property tax for the recreational district.
Last week, state Sen. Mike Walsworth stated publicly that he opposed a new tax for recreation in western Ouachita. He said western Ouachita should tackle more important issues, such as inadequate roads, before officials sought a tax to pay for recreation.
On Monday, the Ouachita Parish Police Jury deadlocked in a 3-3 vote when police jurors were asked to go on record in support of the legislation Hoffmann agreed to introduce in the Regular Session. The 3-3 vote by the police jury was, in effect, a vote against the recreation district's efforts to secure the Legislature's approval to hold a sales tax election.
Hoffmann wants the police jury and the West Monroe Board of Aldermen to pass resolutions endorsing the recreation district's plan.
"I told Frank (Hoffmann) I would not oppose the (sales tax) bill in the Senate, but if the police jury doesn't want it, I don't know if it's going anywhere," said Kostelka, who has a track record of opposing new taxes.