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Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

PEARL RIVER, La. -- City leaders say, these days, sales tax revenue is low, court fines are down and building permits are on the decline in the town of Pearl River.

So the town is looking at turning to the police department for budget relief.

There was a special meeting at Town Hall last week where the council decided to no longer allow police officers to take units home at night and to sell five of them. But it was discovered that decision was made in error, and so the council is considering it again Tuesday night.

However, the police chief is hoping that a new solution he's going to present will change the outcome.

Chief Bennie Raynor told Eyewitness News, off-camera, he'd like the town to ask voters to rededicate a one-cent sales tax, currently covering the cost for streets, to also pay for other needs, including police. Mayor James Lavigne did not respond to several attempts we made for comment Tuesday, and neither did the aldermen for the town.

One long-time resident, who didn't want to go on camera, said he agrees with the town's plan, though he would want at least one on-call officer to be able to keep his unit off-duty. But some homeowners and business owners think other options should be explored.

'I'm sure the residents would be willing to pay more tax if they had to to ensure that we get a response when we make a call,' Wayne McCarthy said.

Chris Gunalda, owner of Mirror Image, said, 'I think they have other ways to be able to save money and come up with other spending than our police officers.'

'I mean we need the protection, and if they cut it down we're not going to have anybody riding the neighborhood, checking on things,' said Michelle Weinstein.

If the town chooses to explore the re-dedication option, it could see a ballot next year.

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