BOGALUSA, La. - Desperate times call for desperate measures and the Washington Parish Sheriff says that is his current reality.
Randy Seal said, “We're not throwing your money away. We don't have the money to throw away."
Seal says inheriting a mess of finances, and operating without guaranteed money from parish government, left him no choice but to slash almost $1 million to make ends meet. The most recent cut led to 12 layoffs. That's coupled with reduced resources to programs like D.A.R.E. And litter enforcement and as high as 30 percent pay cuts for the sheriff and his administrators.
Residents say it's sad to hear.
"It’s happening in a lot of cities and it’s no different here," said Melinda White.
The sheriff says now that he's done everything he can on his end to balance the budget, he's hoping the public steps up on their end, which includes paying taxes and being open to possibly more taxes in the future.
"On the sales tax collections of the law, we're gonna start suing people, we have already,” said Seal. “Not only are we gonna do that, if you're collecting the tax and you're not remitting it, we're gonna come arrest you."
Seal is hoping a recent sales tax increase, approved for public safety, will start trickling in from parish government to prevent seeking another new burden on taxpayers. But some residents say they'd bite the bullet for protection.
White said, “As long as they're doing that in a way that's conservative and they're using the tax dollars in the right way, I would support, as a business owner, for them to ask for the tax raises."
It's a community effort the sheriff says has to start now in order to stay afloat. Seal hasn't decided whether he will seek an increase in property taxes, sales taxes or something else, nor when that may be.
He says if he’s able to grow the revenue, Seal will move to re-hire the employees that were laid off.