Despite bond defeat, projects still priority

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Despite sentiments of disappointment over the voters’ rejection of a $25 million bond package for St. John Parish, administrators say they are not giving up on the issue and want to see it again on a future ballot.

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said the results of Saturday’s parish wide election pertaining to the bond proposal were unfortunate because it delays infrastructure projects that are “vital to the parish.”

“We were looking forward to getting some of these projects off the ground, and I know some council members were too,” said Boe. “The projects to be included in the bond package are still priority projects, and we will continue to look for funding for them so we can get them done.”

Boe said the administration was hoping the bond would allow the parish to move forward with the projects in an effort to keep pace with the extensive growth that St. John Parish is enjoying.

“It takes money to get the initiatives in place to further parish growth,” said Boe.

Of all the projects that were slated to get attention with this bond, Boe said the loss of the $4 million that would have gone toward lakefront levee protection hurts the most because the parish had already begun to secure federal funds. He said Sen. Mary Landrieu and Sen. David Vitter had already guaranteed an additional $900,000 for phase I of the levee project.

Boe believes that the vote might have had a more positive result if it had not appeared on the same ballot as the proposal to incorporate the town of Garyville, which was also voted down by residents of that region.

“It was a very emotional issue that became highly political and even racial toward the end,” said Boe. “I don’t think it is anyone’s fault necessarily, but it was a factor in this election.”

Election results from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office show that of the 3,512 residents parish wide who voted on the bond proposal, 1,793 cast “no” votes, good for 51 percent of the vote, while 1,719 entered “yes” votes, which was roughly 49 percent of the vote.

Results look a bit different, however, if the numbers from Garyville are taken out of the equation. A precinct by precinct breakdown of the results show that of the 1,123 voters from the region up for incorporation, 695, or 61 percent, voted “no,” while 428, or 38 percent, voted “yes.” If those 1,123 votes are taken away, the “yes” vote becomes 1,291, while the “no vote becomes 1,098. Approval of the bond would have carried 54 percent of the vote.

Although it will take some time, Boe said the administration is committed to re-introducing the bond to be considered for a future election. He said administration officials, including representatives from the bond commission, the parish legal counsel, and the parish council are formulating a timeline to get the bond back on the ballot, but the issue must go through the complete cycle of approval before it returns again.

“We are evaluating the upcoming elections and schedules to see when it is best to introduce the bond again,” said Boe. “We hope to get it done as quickly as we can because these are important parish projects that need attention.”