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Tax’s OK may help parish get new jail

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / February 9, 1998

LULING – St. Charles Parish President Chris Tregre dangled the possibilityof more funds toward a new parish jail, provided the May 2 recreation taxelection is passed.

Tregre made his remarks at the monthly membership meeting of the St.Charles Business Association Thursday at the Esperanza Room.

“If we get this, with state help, this could free up some money to help thesheriff’s office with a new jail,” Tregre commented.On the ballot are three items. One is to levy a 10-year, 1.97 mills propertytax for the parish parks and recreation program. The second is to levy a 1-mill property tax for the recreation program, provided that in any year thetax is levied, the parish would not collect more than 1.13 mills of the 2.16authorized for the mosquito control program. The third ballot item is for a.98-mill for the elderly citizens program.The first and third items above are renewals, with no changes in theamounts. The second item is a new tax.

Parks and Recreation Director Rusty Rebowe also outlined themushrooming growth of his department. He pointed out the youth programshave expanded in participation 162 percent in the past 10 years.

This was broken down to baseball/softball by 145 percent, soccer by 134percent, football by 71 percent and basketball by 216 percent.

At the same time, parish population increased only 6 percent and schoolpopulation increased by only 32 percent.Adult programs have likewise increased, Rebowe continued. Since 1990,softball participation increased 101 percent, basketball by 150 percent,flag football by 115 percent, mixed volleyball by 82 percent and springvolleyball by 30 percent, for an overall adult participation increase of 101percent.

Senior programs offered by the department include bowling league, artsand crafts and special events such as the Mardi Gras Senior Ball, the FallFling Extravaganza and the Senior Olympics.Yet more programs are offered for special athletes, such as bowling,basketball, track, bocce, aquatics and volleyball, as well as the SpecialOlympics and summer camp, all coordinated with the St. Charles ARC.

The Parks and Recreation Department also owns eight sites and leases 28others and maintains all the sites. These range from gymnasiums, boatlaunches, playgrounds, tennis courts and ball fields.All this is done with 26 full-time employees (eight office staff) and twopart-time employees on a $1.7 million annual budget. A total of $1.4million derives from the current millage, and the remainder is made upfrom user fees, concessions and the parish General Fund, the latter ofwhich kicks in $450,000.The additional 1-mill, if approved along with the renewal of the currentmillage, “will make recreation self-sufficient and self-funding,” Tregrestated.

And, he continued, the success of the program is reflected in the lowamount paid by the parish to the St. James Youth Center for juvenileoffenders. Tregre credited the recreation programs and the St. CharlesPublic School System for the low numbers of juvenile offenders.

In other activity at the business association meeting, the St. Charles Expotentative date was announced for April 23-25. Also, 17,000 copies of thenewly updated business directory are expected to be published in Augustor September.

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