Tax issue subject of Merryville hearing - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Tax issue causes confusion, controversy in Merryville

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MERRYVILLE, LA (KPLC) -

For the past five years, people who have been shopping in Merryville have been paying sales tax that expired about five years ago.

That is, two percent of the sales tax should have been on the ballot for renewal in 2007, but it was not.

The issue has created confusion and controversy in the small Beauregard Parish town.

Merryville has only 700 registered voters and the town has had a few mayors over recent years. There is no clear answer on how a tax renewal that should have been voted on in 2007 slipped through the cracks, but it did.

Current mayor, Larry Carroll, said he discovered it.

"It was allowed to lapse in 2007 through a clerical error. I don't know whose fault it was or anything else, but my administration feels it's our job to try to correct it and move forward," Carroll said.

So, for about five years, the town has been receiving sales tax dollars never approved by voters.

Carroll said the revenue goes toward what the town has always used it for, operations and maintenance of the town streets and services.

"What the people need to know is that this money has continuously gone to fund the town, to take care of the town's everyday business and allow the town to operate. And that's what will happen in the future. There's no account of where money has been mishandled or anything else. It was just human error and that happens sometimes and we've got to correct it," Carroll said.

When the voters go to the polls on Dec. 8, they will decide whether to approve the taxes for future years. The ballot will not call it a renewal, but the mayor said it amounts to that.

"It's identical to what they passed in 1997 and from looking at this probably back to 1977. It's identical to that. They'll be paying the same tax. There will be no increase. It will be the same tax that they've paid all these years. It goes to maintain the town. Without this money you wouldn't hardly have a town. It's two thirds of our budget," Carroll said.

If the taxes had been approved in 2007, they would have stayed in effect until 2017. If approved on Dec. 8, the tax will be in place for the next 20 years.

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