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Groups call for 'no' vote on sheriff's tax proposal

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PORT ALLEN - The sheriff of West Baton Rouge is on defense as local industry and community groups take a swing at his proposal to raise taxes.

Sheriff Mike Cazes argues the half-cent sales tax increase prevents cutting jobs and programs in his department, but local groups argue he's being greedy.

The Louisiana Tea Party and The Dow Chemical Company asked people to vote 'no' when the tax hike hits the polls Saturday. The Tea Party says the sheriff's office has enough cash, zeroing in on their benefit package and health care plan.

"The taxpayers need to know where their money is going," said Tea Party of Louisiana spokesman Bob Reid.

Dow sent an email to its employees asking they vote the tax down.

"An additional $.05 would cost Dow an additional $500,000 a year," wrote Dow Site Director Eduardo Do Val.

Cazes fired back, arguing the money is strictly for their reserve fund and says he doubts the numbers provided are accurate.

"They would have to spend $10 million a year in sales tax in buying products for that to happen," Sheriff Cazes said.

Cazes called the tax fiscally responsible and says while they are not drowning now, it is in their near future as they yank from reserves.

Last year the department pulled out nearly a million dollars when the parish did not generate enough tax.

"Whatever the tax shortfall is, it comes from my general fund," Sheriff Cazes said. "When you take $800,000 out of your budget that you don't foresee, it's hard to make up."

Voting takes place Saturday. If approved the sales tax would increase to 9.5 cents on the dollar.



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