Walking Around Money: The Rich Get Richer

By Louis Avallone

The rich just get richer. If there was ever any question about that statement, the Caddo Parish Commission has certainly put it to rest now. And not only are the rich getting richer, they are doing so with your money, and more of it than ever before in history.

It matters not to them about the hard-working people trying to get ahead, or to perhaps save a little money for a son or daughter to go to college. Or to put a down payment on a house for their family. Or to save a few dollars so they could help an elderly parent who is living on a very fixed income, or even save a few dollars for their own retirement.

None of that matters to the rich. They seemingly are concerned with only getting richer. And who are the rich here? The Caddo Parish Commission.

You see, there’s a special election being held on May 3 in Caddo Parish to increase taxes on every Caddo Parish family by $333, or $23 million overall, supposedly needed to make improvements to parish roads, parks, and other facilities.

But that’s a false argument, because the premise is that without the $23 million, potholes will become deeper, and children will have no place to play. That’s simply not true, though.

In fact, the Commission already has on hand $160 million in cash currently, according to demographer and pollster Elliott Stonecipher – and all the while, Caddo Parish families are still paying the highest property taxes of any other parish in Louisiana.

With that much cash in hand already, and without increasing taxes, the Commission has enough walking around money now to last them 140 years.

It doesn’t make sense. After increases in federal income taxes, rising Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, and higher state and local taxes, the average middle-class taxpayer pays nearly 50 percent of their income in taxes. Why ask Caddo Parish families to contribute more, especially when the Commission just passed a resolution acknowledging that Louisiana has the second highest poverty rate in the country.

The May 3 ballot proposal to increase ad valorem taxes will boost property taxes – and history is littered with communities where higher property taxes have provided disincentives to start businesses, or expand existing ones. This leads to fewer jobs being created, and declining population growth, as families migrate to those communities where there are jobs, and better opportunities.

Caddo Parish has had almost no population growth for almost 25 years, yet the Commission has increased its revenues by 42 percent to-date, or $23 million, according to research by Stonecipher. And the Commission wants to borrow more of our money?

Let’s ask Detroit how that worked for them. They went bankrupt largely because elected officials continued borrowing money, even while population growth and property values declined. The same is true for Cleveland, Buffalo, St. Louis and even Washington, D.C.

And in almost every instance, whenever government officials increase taxes in one city, parish or state, then new businesses expand, or start-up altogether, in another city, parish or state. Again, families move where the businesses are, and businesses locate wherever they can be the most competitive in a global economy.

The May 3 vote is already costing our families $145,000, just to set-up the voting machines. And we already did this last October, less than six months ago, when parish residents voted “no” to this same bond proposition. Let’s not add insult to injury here, this time around, by giving Caddo Commissioners the equivalent of 160 years of walking around money.

If it’s true, as Will Rogers said, “We should be thankful that we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for,” then the residents of Caddo Parish must consider themselves the most thankful citizens in our great state.

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