Coroner’s bill gets second reading in House

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The second reading of House Bill 623, a bill asking for a vote of the people to fund the Webster Parish Coroner’s Office by an ad valorem tax, was set to be read Tuesday.

District 10 Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, says the bill would take the burden off of municipalities and other government agencies in the parish to pay the coroner’s office for services provided.

“It will be on the floor probably next week,” he said. “It passed out of committee with no negative votes. What this does is this will only set up a taxing district if the people vote for it. This is simply to put before the people the option of having a taxing district to pay for the coroner’s expenses rather than the police jury and all the local cities paying for the coroner’s expenses. It’s not in addition to that, it’s instead of.”

If this is passed and it goes before the people, Reynolds says it would go on the October ballot and would be up to 8 mill ad valorem tax to Webster Parish citizens.

Tax Assessor Morris Guin says Coroner Carlos Irizarry would not ask for more than 3 mill, which would generate up to $600,000 for the office. If he asks for 2 mill, it would generate about $500,000.

“The people will have to vote on a millage amount,” Guin said. “It sounds like the people are going to vote on an 8 mill tax, but that’s not what it is.”

The funds generated would go to pay for the operations of the coroner’s office such as the salaries for the coroner, his assistants, secretaries, stenographers, clerks, technicians, investigators, official photographers and all necessary expenses related to the operation and functions of the office, according to the bill’s digest.

It would also prohibit “the parish governing authority or other local municipality from being obligated to pay any fee or cost associated with the operation of the office,” the digest continues.

If passed, ad valorem taxes would be collected the same way as other ad valorem taxes in Webster Parish.

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