Payroll tax vote delayed in Raceland

Citizens showed up to voice their opinion on a proposed increase in the Raceland payroll tax Wednesday night but the meeting was canceled due to a lack of quorum. Photo by Charles Romans.

A vote to double the payroll tax in the city of Raceland was postponed Wednesday night because there were not enough City Council members available to attend the meeting.

Proceedings required a minimum of four council members in attendance in order to vote, and when only one attended the meeting, it was scratched.

The proposed payroll tax increase from 1.5 to 3 percent is unpopular and many, the teachers in the Raceland-Worthington School District especially, feel as though they will be forced to shoulder an unreasonable burden. But the postponement of the vote might prove useful, said Zenaida Smith, who works as a Spanish Teacher at Raceland-Worthington High School. She hopes to use the extra time to gather more information.

“Maybe as educators we can do more research and discover why the City Council wants to put a 1.5 percent increase on the school and the very few employers within the city limits,” Smith said.

The current payroll tax at 1.5 percent brings money in year-round, currently about $101,000 per year. The proposal to raise the rate to 3 percent is projected to bring in another $202,000 over two years. That amount would add an additional $8,400 per month to the city’s bottom line.

Council Member Kevin Jackson said he understands why teachers are upset. Jackson said in his view there are no other available means at this time to generate the money the City of Raceland needs to operate. Jackson, who is currently serving his second term, insists the city needs to increase its revenue in order to meet current financial needs as well as to ensure funds are available in the event of emergency issues such as water breaks. This, he said, is especially challenging when many of the city’s utilities are outsourced to surrounding cities.

“I look at the figures of what we have coming in and going out,” Jackson said. “And those figures aren’t adding up.”

The proposed payroll tax, Jackson said, would be a means to ensure Raceland’s future against expenses.

Those who attended to voice their concerns were not able to do so, but they hope to do so in the near future. Jackson and Mayor Mike Wilson both are confident any concerns the community has will be addressed at either a future special meeting or at the very latest the regularly scheduled monthly meeting in August.