In The News › Jefferson Parish voters to decide on five tax renewals Saturday

Apr 29, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Jefferson Parish, On the Ballot

Jefferson Parish voters to decide on five tax renewals Saturday

Friday, April 29, 2011
By Richard Rainey
The Times-Picayune

Jefferson Parish voters must fight the dual distractions of beautiful weather and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell to decide Saturday whether to renew three parishwide millages that pay for animal services, schools and juvenile services and a drainage tax renewal that covers all of the parish except Grand Isle. In addition, Grand Isle voters will consider a renewing a 20-mill tax for their fire department and voters in a portion of Plaquemines Parish will elect a Justice of the Peace.

“It’ll probably be a very long and quiet Saturday,” said Dennis DiMarco, registrar of voters. “That’s what we’re predicting.”

DiMarco said he expects little more than a 5-percent turnout, considering there are no candidates on the ballot and there isn’t organized opposition to any of the tax measures.

The parishwide renewals all span 10 years.

Up for consideration will be a 5-mill tax to pay for neighborhood drainage projects and the parish’s 35-percent match required on all federally financed drainage projects under the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control program, or SELA. The tax, last renewed in 2001, should bring in about $15 million annually, Public Works Director Kazem Alikhani has said.

Also on the ballot is the renewal of a one-half cent sales tax that would pay for teachers’ salaries, facility maintenance, textbooks, social workers and in-school suspension programs. It’s expected to generate almost $37 million next year and accounts for 8 percent of the system’s budget, according to the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Voters must also decide whether to finance parish juvenile services for another decade. The 3.5-mill property tax would continue to pay for staffing and improving juvenile detention facilities and services. The tax is expected to raise $11.4 million each year.

Jefferson’s two animal shelters, as well as the Human Services Authority and the Jefferson Parish Health Unit, would benefit from a renewal of a 2.26-mill property tax. It should generate about $7.3 million next year, according to the BGR.

Beyond those four proposals, Grand Isle residents will also vote whether to renew a tax that pays for their fire department. The 20-mill tax was last renewed in 2001. It is expected to generate $665,000 a year to finance the department of nine paid firefighters and EMS workers and 15 volunteers.

Also, Plaquemines Parish voters will decide between David McGaha, a Buras Republican and Lynn Porter, a Nairn Democrat to be the next Justice of the Peace for Ward 10.

One of the two political newcomers will replace Church Soileau, who was elected to the Plaquemines Parish School Board last fall.

Despite predictions of low interest among voters, DiMarco said the renewals stand a good chance of being approved. He did say his office has seen an uptick in teachers voting early, a likely product of an information campaign by the Jefferson Parish School Board.

“If the parish and the School Board can get (their) people out, it’s possible they’ll all pass,” he said.

Apr 29, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: Jefferson Parish, On the Ballot

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