- Will Broyles
Local government is choking at having to do the right thing by the citizens.
All the way back in August 2015, Elliott Stonecipher set out to help hold the local Caddo Parish government accountable by exposing an illegal collection of taxes in Caddo Fire District 5. At the time, local officials conspicuously ignored the news and continued about doing the wrong thing until they could legally keep the ill-gotten money. Last month, in his article entitled “A STUNNING STORY OF CADDO PARISH TAXPAYER DISRESPECT“, Elliott highlighted that local traditional media TV station KTBS had picked up his story in their piece “Caddo Fire District 5 faces new tax issue over excess collections“.
In the past decade, there have been very few instances of local media holding local government to account. The pressure from Elliott with outlets like social media and RealShreveport have exposed corrupt practices in local government and caused traditional media to compete for relevance; thus more investigative journalism has been sprinkled in to the local mix in recent years. That journalism has been the last defense for the people of Caddo Parish for some relief as accountability has been far .
RealShreveport recently learned of an April 30 letter to affected taxpayers that only the illegal fees they paid were refunded. Put plainly, citizens in this District that were affected got checks in their mailbox and their money returned (no interest included). What remains to be seen is if Fire District 5 will pay back the property tax portion of the monies they owe to taxpayers.
It’s still a win for the people even when government begrudgingly returns money that wasn’t rightfully taken, but it would be much nicer if Caddo District 5 made their citizens completely whole and paid up the larger amount of money owed on the even older property tax collections they were not due.
Kudos to Elliott Stonecipher for bringing such important issues to light, and kudos to Jeff Beimfohr of KTBS for pushing the story even more. Without journalism, our corruption would be completely unchecked in Shreveport and Caddo.