OUR OPINION: Survey holds good, bad news for parish

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

It’s simply a matter of good news and bad news when it comes to the recent survey commissioned by Parish President Tommy Martinez.

The good news??The parish can confirm what it already knew – that fixing parish roads should be the top priority – and what it may not have known – that many parish voters would support a dedicated half-cent sales tax to do just that.

The bad news??That many other programs or ideas parish officials and many parish residents feel are desperately needed aren’t the popular idea or barely show up on the radar, in some cases.

Martinez presented the results of the poll, conducted by local firm Campaign Opinion &?Research, to the Parish Council at its meeting Thursday in Donaldsonville. After a very informative presentation by pollster John Diez, who conducted the survey, the council and general public viewing the meeting now have a better idea how to prioritize parish needs.

While Martinez said he figured that road issues would top the poll, he could not have been pleased to see the apparent disinterest of parish voters in projects such as a comprehensive wastewater treatment facility or improving recreation and drainage services.

Martinez has said that there will not be a tax issue on the Nov. 4 ballot for the proposed half-cent sales tax. However, he is still pushing to get the proposed 3-mill property tax to fund the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center on the November ballot. Barring any unforeseen situations, the council will likely approve his request and squeak the proposal in just under the deadline.

However, passage of the tax is a whole other story. In his poll, Martinez must have seen that public opinion on the future of the center under parish control is nearly split, with the difference just leaking over to the supportive side. Such a divide may not bode well for a vote on the matter come November, and Martinez has said that if the voters do not approve the tax proposal, he will not renew the lease-purchase agreement with the Lamar-Dixon Foundation. This means that the center would either close, possibly be sold to another buyer or that the parish could renegotiate with the foundation.

To lose a facility such as Lamar-Dixon would hurt the parish in terms of recreation programs and other services, but would also free up dollars that could be used for those much-wanted road projects or other plans.

Decisions, decisions.