Beauregard Parish struggling to collect sales tax revenue

By Lee Peck - bio | email

DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) - When it comes to crunching the numbers, Beauregard Parish Administrator, Secretary & Treasurer Betty Cunningham knows what is coming into Beauregard Parish. And she'll tell you the current outlook isn't good.

"When I look at the numbers, I want to cry. I want to cry," said Cunningham.

Beauregard Parish sales tax revenue is down by 838-thousand dollars from 2008 to 2009. The decline in sales could impact services from road repairs to garbage collection.

"We will not be able to expend the amount of dollars that we were expending las year simply because we will not have them," explained Cunningham.

Parish officials are hoping things will turn around, but in the meantime encourage residents to shop local.

"It's important that we take care of our people and it's important that our people take care of their parish," said Cunningham.

And there are plenty of retailers wanting to earn your business. Jimmie Hooks, owner of Big 'D' Corral has been sizing up cowboys and cowgirls for more than fifty years.

With his and other businesses livelihood at stake - Hooks says all they want is a chance: "We don't expect anybody just to give - I mean give us an opportunity to sell and give you service. And if you don't come to our stores and businesses, then we don't have that opportunity," said Hooks.

A missed opportunity - not only at Hook's place - but the gas stations and grocery stores across Beauregard Parish - effecting the bottom line - which could translate into layoffs to the parish's 120 employees.

"We don't want to lay anybody off. We want to make certain we have taken every measure before that happens," said Cunningham.  "The old cliche - you have to operate within your means and we'll have to do whatever we have to do. We can't operate on a deficit budget."

Cunningham says although the first quarter numbers for 2010 aren't in yet - she's expecting a downturn and says parish officials are looking at several options to offset the losses.

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