Police jury delays action on OMV tax

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2005

VIDALIA &045; Concerns about levying a new tax led police jurors to delay action on a new building for the Office of Motor Vehicles.

The OMV approached the jury several weeks ago requesting a $1 to $3 service fee on new driver’s license transactions in order to pay for what they say is a much-needed building.

The jury previously discussed the matter in executive session but asked for more research, which Secretary Russell Wagoner presented to them Monday night.

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Estimates based on requests from the OMV put the building cost at between $75,000 and $80,000. The parking lot would be an additional $15,000 to $20,000.

State law allows the OMV to request the fee from local governments. The Police Jury would pay for construction and upkeep and own the building. Money from the service fee would go directly to the Police Jury to pay costs.

OMV District Supervisor Brenda Cook was at Monday’s meeting to explain the need for the building.

&uot;We are in a little bitty building that we have outgrown,&uot; Cook said. &uot;How we haven’t had a wreck, I don’t know.&uot;

The OMV wants to relocate to a place off the main highway to avoid safety issues they currently face.

&uot;Vidalia is the highest production of my 35 offices,&uot; she said.

The office already has an $8 handling fee on transactions.

Juror Randy Temple said he was opposed to more taxes.

&uot;I personally feel like since taxpayers are already paying, we are just taxing them again,&uot; Temple said. &uot;I can’t go along with imposing more fees on our local taxpayers to bail our the state.&uot;

Cook explained if the jury didn’t approve the request the OMV would merely go to the towns of Vidalia and Ferriday to look for the money.

&uot;We are going to have to do something,&uot; she said. &uot;We have to go somewhere and find a building.&uot;

Once the cost of the building is paid off the fee can be reduced or used as surplus money to by equipment for the office. The Police Jury would still receive lease money for the space.

The money would be dedicated to the OMV, though, and could not be transferred to the parish’s general fund.

&uot;I wouldn’t want to slam the door,&uot; Temple said. &uot; But I’d prefer she talk to the cities. I just don’t believe in imposing just because we can.&uot;

Juror Jimmy Jernigan suggested doing further research and discussing the matter again at the May 9 meeting. A motion to have the finance committee look at the issue passed. It will come up again at the May meeting.

In other business:

4 The jury received confirmation from the attorney general about coroner’s fees. Recently, the coroner has been billing the jury for services performed in the city limits. Those bills are the responsibility of the municipalities, according to the attorney general’s opinion. In the future, the jury will return the bills to the coroner.

4The jury appointed Mike Sanders to fill a vacancy on the Concordia Waterworks District No. 1.