Tax proposals approved in St. James Parish

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 12, 2002


CONVENT – Two of three tax proposals were approved Saturday in St. James Parish by a small number of voters.

Clerk of Court Edmond Kinler expected a voter turnout of 6 to 8 percent, and the actual tally was 7.5 percent.

“If you had to prioritize the three proposals, the top two passed,” Parish President Dale Hymel Jr. said. “There’s different ways to publicize an election. If we had a big publicity campaign, more voters might have come out and voted them down.”

This way, Hymel added, more government employees participated to push through the two millage proposals.

The proposition to continue the 0.74 mills tax for fire protection purposes for the next 10 years passed by 414 to 311, a margin of 103 votes. That particular election was for unincorporated St. James Parish, excluding Lutcher and Gramercy.

Hymel said the fire protection millage income is for programs such as maintenance of water lines for fire-fighting and maintenance of fire hydrants. New subdivisions install hydrants at their own expense, then turn them over to the parish for maintenance.

The proposition for parish-wide drainage improvements likewise passed by 578-512, a margin of 66 votes.

The drainage tax approval increases the current millage from 1.96 to 3 mills, and is to fund the dredging planned of the two major drainage canals, one of which drains the West Bank to Lac des Allemands and the East Bank canal which drains the East Bank to Blind River.

The canals, dug in the late 1960s, have not been cleaned since they were first dug 30 years ago, and Hymel expects to receive the necessary state wetlands permits soon.

However, a millage increase to compensate for declining state funding for courts, inmate care and the cost of jury trials failed at the polls with a vote of 563-503, a margin of 60 votes. The proposal was to increase the millage from 3.23 to 4 mills.

“I knew it would be an uphill battle on this one,” Hymel said.

He said he does not plan to call another election on this matter for a second try at passage.

At the same time in the parish, a bond service millage is expired. That 2.81 mills was payment for a 1982 loan for parishwide road upgrades. It was refinanced in 1998 to take advantage of improved interest rates and is now expired.

Now, as a result of Saturday’s election, the total current tax rate for St. James Parish was reduced by .23 mills.

The average millage for homeowners in unincorporated St. James Parish is 104 mills, Hymel said.