Council members using an app to get feedback about a South Monroe sales tax
Monroe City Council is expected to decide if a sales tax on goods and services purchased in South Monroe could be on the November ballot.
The Southside Economic Development District’s (SEDD) proposed tax is just over half a penny on every dollar spent in South Monroe. In an interview with SEDD when they were having community forums about the tax, they said the money would go back into the district for things like revitalization, adding in more businesses and fixing the Renwick Street footbridge.
If City Council adopts the resolution Tuesday, the measure would go to the State Bond Commission and if approved it would go on the November ballot for people to vote on.
Ahead of the city council meeting, Councilman Michael Echols asked the community for their input on the tax. Using the app Your Vote, lawmakers can pose a question to the community and people can answer anonymously.
"It's basically about giving people a voice so when there's a key vote or key issue I'm working on I can ask my constituents what they think of it,” says Echols.
Echols says this week was the debut of the app in this area. Monday, Echols asked people whether they approve of the tax. You don’t have to live in a certain district to answer questions either, some questions everyone will be able to answer.
“This issue with the Southside Economic Development board and what they're asking right now is both an onerous issue because it's putting taxes on the backs of hard-working men and women,” says Echols. “It's a sales tax and something that I think is troubling because the poorest of the poor will have to pay every penny."
We reached out to SEDD for an interview, but they were not available. Due to extenuating circumstances, they said they were thinking about asking the council to push the vote back.
Since the tax is on the agenda already, Councilman Echols says they could still go ahead with the vote anyway.
“It can be asked that a council member either table that item or pass over it for a council meeting, and then it takes a vote of the council to be able to do that. So now that it's on the agenda and a live item, the chair has some discretion to decide what to do.”
When we asked Monroe Mayor, Jamie Mayo, what he thought about the tax he said, “My position is that the public ought to have a right to vote for that issue either up or down and that's always been my position."
And the ‘Your Vote’ app isn’t just for city council. Michael Echols says there are lawmakers in South Louisiana using it now and you can pose questions on the national or state level.
He says Louisiana Tech Students created the app. Anyone who pays for the service is able to send in questions for the community to give their opinion on. Then when the poll is over, lawmakers will get data showing them what the community thinks overall.