So, what was the message?

By Ida B. Torn

QuestionMarkMarch 25th offered the chance for a large segment of Natchitoches Parish residents to voice their opinion and only a paltry 14.8% of them seized the opportunity. I must admit that I was very surprised when the final election results showed that all four ad valorem tax initiatives passed with sizeable margins. So, I’m left to ask just what was the message being sent by the voters?

While it is painfully obvious that voter apathy continues to be a problem for our Parish, voter turnout actually increased over the last time the taxes were up for renewal on July 21, 2007, by about 60% across the board. Does the fact that I find those numbers impressive mean that my expectations are way too low?

In the span of 10 years, the support for the Library tax slipped from 81% to 67%. Does that mean that there was opposition in 2007 but no one cared enough to turn out to voice their opposition? Or did the overspending on the Campti branch start to tip the scale in the other direction? Or was it the campaign of the rural residents to have the taxes realigned between the Library and the road system that sparked the decline?

The Health Unit tax saw the biggest slide in support with a 16% decrease. Was the decrease due to the fact that most residents appeared not to know that the Health Unit tax has been supporting the expense of inmate housing for many years now or was it because there aren’t enough people in our Parish who understand just how vital the Health Unit is to our Parish?

The most hotly contested tax renewal on the ballot was for Road District 40, which saw a 13% decrease in support. It was the one tax that I felt most confident would fail considering all of the negative talk on social media. It just goes to show that, in order to accomplish a goal, you must be well organized and have a concentrated campaign. Clearly, the folks who wanted a realignment in the taxes were lacking in both and the majority of voters had less confidence in their plan than what they do the Parish Government.

In breaking down the 2017 election results and comparing them to the 2007 results, one message seems to come through loud and clear – the chasm between the “rural” Parish dwellers and the “urban” Parish dwellers is growing and the Parish Government needs to get to work on regaining the confidence of all Parish residents.

7 thoughts on “So, what was the message?

  1. It’s all part of the plan…not a one hundred percent guarantee but always hold tax elections and renewals when you know you will have a low turnout if you want them to pass.

  2. A statewide survey finds a majority of Louisiana residents support higher taxes if the tax revenues go towards public schools, colleges, health care and roads. But Director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, Michael Henderson, says their poll doesn’t mean taxpayers are completely fine with just higher taxes to fund government.

    “Most people want spending cuts to be part of an overall solution to the budget, maybe not to those specific areas, but they want to find those cuts somewhere else,” Henderson said.

    Henderson says their survey also found the public does not support higher taxes to pay for prisons, food stamps or other welfare programs. He says when it comes to raising taxes to pay for key services, it’s not clear what taxes the public would like to see raised.

    “There’s very few folks in Louisiana that say I pay too little in income tax, or I pay too little in sales tax,” Henderson said.

    Henderson says there’s more clarity when it comes to raising the gasoline tax to pay for highway improvements. He says a majority of respondents favor increasing the state’s tax on gasoline, but support from Republicans falls when you ask about a 20 cent per gallon hike.

    “It’s not until you get to a 20 cent per gallon increase, where you still have a majority of Democrats and a majority of the overall population, but no longer a majority of Republicans supporting an increase in the gasoline tax,” Henderson said.

  3. We’re working with a revision of the old “80/20” rule, it’s now the “85/15” rule. That’s OK as long as a tax renewal can still pass on a minor % of the voters voting and a majority of them voting “Yes.”

    The future of our parish depends on concerned citizens looking for a better level of municipal maintenance then those who just don’t care. A well kept community attracts good residential growth.

  4. yes you are correct that campaigning on a keyboard only works if you get out of the chair, now the silence of the lambs begins.
    thank you again for pointing out the lax we see in our voters.
    14.8 smh!

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