May 1 – Baker, Louisiana Sales Tax Ballot Question
As more municipalities deal with budget crises, more special election ballot questions are being put in front of voters in the hopes of tax increase approval. These small tax increases, government officials hope, will allow basic services, such as hospitals, public safety and school districts, will avoid cuts.
Voters in Baker, Louisiana face just such a predicament. On May 1, they will decide whether to keep the 1/2 cent local sales tax, where all funds are dedicated to go directly to salaries of firefighters, police officers, other public safety personnel and related equipment. This renewal would last for 10 years (until 2021) and would generate 750,000 to 810,000 dollars annually for the city.
A city of about 14,000, Baker is just east of Baton Rouge and is a fairly conservative town, making this sales tax vote intriguing to watch. Tony Perkins, famous as the head of the anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality Family Research Council, lived for many years in Baker. It is also a poor city, with 15.5% of the population below the poverty line and there are still about 1,000 families displaced by Hurricane Katrina who live in FEMA provided temporary housing.