Alderman introduces new debt plan in response to Sterlington sales tax

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STERLINGTON,La. (KNOE) - Sterlington’s board of Alderman will soon vote on a plan to raise the sales tax. If approved, Sterlington’s would have the highest sales tax in the country.

Part of Mayor Caesar Velasquez’s plan is to raise the sales tax less than two percent. Business owners say the sales tax is a step in the wrong direction.

Right now, Sterlington’s debt is around 21-million dollars. In two weeks, Sterlington’s board of Alderman will vote on the proposal. If approved, it would be the highest sales tax in the country.

Part of Mayor Caesar Velasquez’s plan is to raise the sales tax by less than two percent.

Business owners say the sales tax is a step in the wrong direction.

"We have to be careful that we are not discouraging people from investing in this community with high taxes,” said End Zone Grill and Bar owner Lee Keyes.

Keyes says while a higher sales tax won't have a massive effect on his bar, other small businesses might not be so lucky.

"Once you get into larger purchases, then you'll notice a 13% sales tax."

Alderman Brian McCarthy says he has a plan to improve the city’s finances without raising the sales tax.

"If you have a 12-13% tax rate, people are not gonna move here," said McCarthy.

McCarthy was the only alderman to vote against the sales tax increase.

“You can't tax your way into prosperity to pay off the 21 million you have to grow your way out of it."

He says he came up with a new plan to get the city out of the red. First, he plans to sell advertising rights at the city's sports complex.

“At the Sterlington Sports Complex right now its $5,000 to buy a sign. The idea is to drop the cost of the signs and increase the volume of the signage. Two hundred signs for 500 bucks, that's 100 thousand dollars,” said McCarthy.

He also says he is a believer in small businesses and encourages people to buy local.

“If we could advertise for Papa Tater's, End Zone, Barbecue Pitt, Fish House, the restaurants we have here. If we can not only advertise for it but if those folks are willing to offer a discount that will drive in additional value that will drive in revenue," said McCarthy.

McCarthy also says he's looking into developing an app that provides information like a list of city events and businesses.

McCarthy says he will move forward with his plans no matter how the board votes.