Other issues take precedence over recreation tax
The Jennings City Council made the right move Tuesday in denying a request to put a recreation tax on a ballot.
However, the request was made with good intentions.
The city’s recreation department has come quite a long way in the past several years. At Tuesday’s council meeting, the city’s recreation director, Brian Benoit, noted that over 700 kids participate in city-sponsored sports each year, which includes basketball, baseball, softball, swimming, and flag football. The city boasts great facilities at its home on Academy Avenue, as well as Franklin Park.
Adults are actually the ones making the most out of Franklin Park. The Jeff Davis Adult Recreation group has formed a softball league that continues to grow each year. The love of the game doesn’t end at high school or college graduation, so providing play for those 17 and older is something to be admired and appreciated.
Members of the Adult Recreation group want to provide even more sports for adults, as well as young kids who are not yet old enough to play through the city’s rec department. Considering that the Roanoke and Hathaway communities offer basketball and tee-ball for the little ones, it’s understandable people in Jennings would want to do the same.
However, the Jeff Davis Adult Recreation director asked that those activities be provided for through a property tax that would generate about $177,000 annually. When talking taxes, that’s actually a small amount of money; but money is tight for residents and the city, so any extra tax requirements are still a burden.
Councilman Johnny Armentor pointed out that though the majority of residents enjoy and support sports, many residents are also senior citizens who live on fixed budgets. While an extra $10-$30 per year in taxes might not seem significant to some, to others, it’s money that could go toward medical care, groceries, childcare or mortgages.
Another point made during the meeting was that while Jennings residents would be paying the recreational tax, children from outside city limits would be able to enroll in city-sponsored sports, which would not be fair to locals.
And with renovations underway on the future home of City Hall; money needed from the city for a new jail as well as the new Sowela campus near Jennings High; and other infrastructure concerns, Mayor Terry Duhon and councilmen were right to say now is not the time to ask voters to consider a recreation tax, especially when you consider that taxpayers already fund current recreation activities.
Recreation is a positive and important aspect of the city; but it is certainly not as important, or necessary, as other areas.
Should residents ever have the opportunity to cast their vote on a recreation tax? Maybe one day. But the city has a lot to accomplish before the majority of voters will deem such a tax worthy of their hard work.
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