[StBernard] Two tax renewals for St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office on March 27 ballot

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Fri Mar 19 23:50:20 EDT 2010

Two tax renewals for St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office on March 27 ballot
By Bob Warren, The Times-Picayune
March 19, 2010, 4:27PM
The St. Bernard Sheriff's Office will bring two tax renewals to voters March

And while the referendums have not generated a groundswell of voter
interest, sheriff's officials say the renewals are vital for maintaining
parish law enforcement. There appears to be no organized opposition to them.

"It's an important funding mechanism for us,'' said Chief Deputy Sheriff
James Pohlmann. "Without it, it would definitely affect our ability to fight

Proposition No. 1 renews a half-cent sales tax first approved by voters in
1992. Voters renewed the tax in 2002. This renewal would be for another 10
years, beginning in 2013.

The sales tax, which brought in around $2.8 million in 2009, is used for
salaries, law enforcement programs such as DARE and the Citizens Police
Academy, equipment and maintaining Sheriff's Office facilities.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Pohlmann said, the sales tax generated around $5
million annually.

"We're encouraged with the opening of Walmart (the store in Chalmette
re-opened earlier this year), but we're still upside down,'' Pohlmann said
of sales tax revenues. "We'll just keep tightening our belt until sales
taxes get better.

"All departments in the region are suffering the same thing... lower
revenues, but we're hurting even more because of Katrina.''

Pohlmann said the Sheriff's Office had more than 400 employees before the
hurricane. It has around 300 now, he said.

While the parish's population has also dropped - from 67,000 to a
parish-government-estimated 42,000 now - Pohlmann said arrests in recent
months have climbed to near pre-Katrina numbers.

He said deputies handle around 3,000 calls monthly, making 250-300 arrests.
Nonetheless, he said, "We enjoy a very low crime rate.''

Proposition No. 2 calls for the renewal of a 5-mill property tax voters
first approved in 2001. it would be for 10 years, beginning next year.

That tax, which brought in $1.43 million in 2009, is dedicated to salaries
and benefits of law enforcement personnel with the rank of lieutenant or

Pohlmann said the property tax was approved in 2001 as a way to boost
salaries for deputies who were leaving the department for better pay in
other parishes.

He said starting salary for deputies is $32,500.

"We feel we're pretty competitive in the region,'' he said.

More information about the StBernard mailing list