POINTE COUPEE PARISH- The budget ax is about to come down after sales tax revenues fell short, according to police jurors on the finance committee.
Job cuts, reduction in budgets and building closures are all part of the plan. Parish leaders are blaming a drop in sales tax revenue. Mix that with some of the lowest property taxes in the state and those in charge say you have a recipe that doesn't cook well for parish services.
Inside the Pointe Coupee museum are relics that date back more than 250 years. That's before America even became a country.
"It helps the children understand how important history is to Pointe Coupee Parish," Harry Portier of the museum said.
But, under the parish's budget proposal the museum would close beginning July 1st. Also part of the plan, six people could lose their jobs. A letter would be sent to all agencies that receive annual contributions advising of a 25% reduction. Cleaning companies at the courthouse would also be replaced with inmate labor.
"We haven't raised property taxes that would go in the general fund since the 70's, and that there is a problem within itself," Justin Cox, President of the Finance Committee said.
Currently, the parish is looking at a deficit of nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
"The numbers do not lie, and certainly if we keep on the trend that we're on with the current sales tax decline, we are projecting 700-800 thousand dollars in deficits," Cox said.
President of the Police Jury Cornell Dukes recognizes there's a big problem ahead.
"We're Pointe Coupeeans, and I think we'll be able to emerge from this," Dukes said. "We already expected this, and anticipated this, and tomorrow we'll look at it again."
As leaders grapple with what to do, people like Portier hope the focus shifts away from the museum.
"This is something the parish needs, and it can also be used to promote the parish," Portier said.
The police jury gets a budget plan tomorrow evening.
Existing positions are being eliminated through attrition, but those familiar with the budget problem say even more will have to be done. They say a measure to raise property taxes is not an immediate option, which would need voter approval.