In The News › 4 Jefferson Parish tax renewals backed by independent non-profit

4 Jefferson Parish tax renewals backed by independent non-profit

By Wilborn P. Nobles III

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

November 17, 2016

Four Jefferson Parish tax renewals on the Dec. 10 ballot gained the backing Thursday (Nov. 17) of the non-profit Bureau of Governmental Research. The measures are:

  • A 1 percent sales tax for sewerage, road and drainage projects, law enforcement and municipal governments. Jefferson’s total sales tax is 9.75 percent
  • 6-mill property tax for drainage
  • 10-mill property tax for recreation
  • 4-mill property tax for public schools

The Bureau of Governmental Research called the sales tax a “core funding source” for local government for more than three decades. “Renewal of the sales tax would enable the parish to finance much-needed road and sewerage improvements on both sides of the Mississippi River,” the agency said. “The parish also could leverage additional state and federal dollars for major road projects. In addition, the (Sheriff’s Office) and five municipalities would retain an important funding source for an additional 20 years.”

The drainage tax helps address what the agency called “a perennial concern” in Jefferson. Losing the millage “would deal a severe blow to drainage operations and maintenance, putting an essential service at risk.” Jefferson also would have to make “severe cuts” to its other services to absorb the loss of more than $15 million in drainage revenue, the agency said.

The recreation tax was lowered this year by the Parish Council to 7.8 mills, to offset rising property values. Renewing it Dec. 10 would authorize a return to 10 mills in 2017, but the council told the Bureau of Governmental Research that “its present intent” is to keep the tax at 7.8 mills if voters renew it. The full 10 mills would yield $26.3 million for 2018, and the agency said “this would increase revenue from the tax by $5.9 million,” or 29 percent, “over the 2016 adopted budget amount.”

“If the Parish Council were to levy the full 10 mills, a homeowner with a homestead-exempt property valued at $200,000 would pay about another $28 per year, an increase from $97 to $125,” the agency’s report said.

“Loss of the millage would force widespread closures” of several of Jefferson’s 28 playgrounds and 29 parks, the agency said.

The Jefferson public school system levies 4 mills for technology, school system maintenance and capital improvements. The tax costs $50 for the owner a homestead-exempt property valued at $200,000.

Renewing it would “preserve significant funding” for school technology and the upkeep of “the school system’s aging stock of school buildings,” the Bureau of Governmental Research said.

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