Lake Charles Lawyer Takes Issue with Tax Proposition

By: PRLog
PRLog - March 20, 2015 - LAKE CHARLES, La. -- Prominent Lake Charles attorney Christian D. Chesson said the March 28 ballot proposition seeking a renewal of the Calcasieu Parish Law Enforcement Proposition (CPLEP) does not go far enough in addressing low pay for law enforcement while the Sheriff’s Office has not been sufficiently transparent in explaining how the funds are allocated.

“I have been asked by many in our community and in law enforcement if I am supporting the Calcasieu Parish Law Enforcement Proposition (CPLEP) renewal,” Chesson said.  “As a lifelong resident and attorney, I have represented thousands of Calcasieu Parish residents in the areas of personal injury, family law, lemon law and crimes of addiction and in bankruptcy.  Sadly, many of my firm’s current clients are law enforcement and education professionals who find themselves in need of bankruptcy protection.

“The CPLEP proposition, originally passed in 2006, was projected to generate $9 million a year for law enforcement, has now generated over $167 million – a significant increase,” Chesson said.  “But deputy sheriffs in our parish still have starting salaries of barely $27,000 a year, and their pay represents only 20 percent of the CPLEP revenue and only six percent of the Sheriff’s Office budget.  It’s troubling not only that our law enforcement professionals are paid so little but that the Office clearly has other priorities – priorities that are not clearly shared.

“I believe the drafters of the proposition should go back to the drawing board and return with a new proposition that addresses the following concerns and questions:

1.) A proposition that is 100% for Deputy Salaries much like the School Boards proposition, of which 100% is for teacher and staff salaries.
2.) An explanation why the 10 years tax costing tax payers $167MM was not enough to provide more substantial salary increases of CPSO Deputies and administration
3.) An explanation as to why the CPSO that has more funding per citizen than any other Louisiana Sheriff Office ($75MM in revenue and $88MM in assets) had $79MM in expenses causing a $5.5MM deficient.
4.) An explanation on the plan to prevent more deficient as annual funding is increased.
5.)  An explanation to those not privileged to home ownership, why the CPLEP burden falls on sales taxes while property owners received property tax reductions.

“I fully support the men and women of law enforcement, and am grateful for their daily sacrifices and service,” Chesson said.  “I do not, however, support a top-heavy public agency putting a less-than-transparent proposition on a ballot where low turnout is expected.  The employees of the Sheriff’s Office deserve better, and so do the people of Calcasieu Parish.”

"Calcasieu to vote on Sheriff's sales tax." American Press. March 17, 2015

Louisiana State Auditor’s Office. “Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Office Financial Report.”  Louisiana State Auditor
. June 30, 2014

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