In The News › What’s on the Jefferson Parish ballot on May 3?

What’s on the Jefferson Parish ballot on May 3?

By Ben Myers | The Times-Picayune

April 23, 2014

Jefferson Parish voters will consider five property tax renewals on the May 3 ballot. The millages, first approved in 2004, provide for a variety of services, including some that state law requires, such as funding for the district attorney’s office. All of the renewals are for 10 years.

The various measures can seem confusing. There are five in total and some seem redundant, but individual voters will weigh no more than three, depending on where they live.

Here is some helpful information:

Q: Do any of the taxes apply parishwide and appear on all ballots?

A: Yes. A one-mill “judicial and culture” tax split evenly between the Court and Judicial Service Fund and the Community Park and Culture Service Fund. It is expected to bring in $3.2 million and supports all aspects of the judicial system as well as parish park facilities and cultural programs.

Q: I live in unincorporated Jefferson Parish or Jean Lafitte. What will I see on the ballot?

A: The judicial and culture tax explained above, plus a 3-mill tax for road lighting and 2.5-mill tax “special services” tax for a variety of services. The road lighting tax raised about $7.5 million annually and pays for 40,000 street lights. The special services tax brings in about $6.3 million for judicial services, criminal justice, the West Bank Security Task Force, parks and cultural programs, the Jefferson Economic Development Commission and senior citizens programs. Among the parks and cultural uses are operation of the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, scheduled for completion this year.

Q: Why do voters in unincorporated areas and Jean Lafitte pay twice for judicial services, parks and cultural programs?

A: The judicial-culture and special services taxes were introduced in 2004 when other special funds were running surpluses. Finance Director Tim Palmatier said the new property taxes corresponded with reductions elsewhere, resulting in no net increases. Palmatier said a total of a four other taxes were reduced – two parishwide and two in unincorporated areas and Jean Lafitte. “The four have been combined into two,” Palmatier said. The Bureau of Governmental Research said at the time that the propositions would create “a more equitable distribution of the tax burden for the criminal justice system” by including municipalities in the burden of supporting the criminal justice system.

Q: I live in Grand Isle. What will I see on the ballot?

A: The judicial and culture tax, plus two others specifically for Grand Isle. One is a maximum 10 mills for ambulance services, the other a maximum five mills for road lighting.

Q: What’s a mill and how does it translate to dollars?

A: A mill is a unit of taxation, equal of 1/10th of one cent, on the assessed value of a property. If the property is an owner-occupied house, the first $75,000 of its value is exempt from property tax. So 1 mill applied to an owner-occupied house valued at $100,000 equals $2.50 in taxes.

Q: When is the early voting period, and where does it take place?

A: Early voting is underway and continues through Saturday. Early voting polling is occurring in Kenner at 408 Minor Street, in Marrero at 5001 West Bank Expressway and at the Yenni Building at 1221 Elmwood Park Blvd. in Elmwood. Polls are open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Q: When are polls open May 3, and where do I vote?

A: Additional election and polling place information is available at the clerk of court’s website.

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