Tax renewals, council seat on Saturday ballot

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, April 30, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parish voters will head to the polls this Saturday, May 3, to cast their ballots in several millage votes and one council seat.

In St. John Parish, voters will decide whether to renew two existing taxes and determine whether the school district will be approved to borrow $10 million to assist with repairs to Hurricane Isaac-damaged Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School.

Felix Boughton, director of finance and business for the school district, said the two proposed taxes contained no raises in existing rates and the votes would simply be to renew current charges.

One of the existing taxes on the ballot would authorize a 10-year renewal of a 4.33 mill property tax, which generates about $2 million a year. The money from the tax is used for the operation and maintenance of school facilities.

The other tax vote would authorize the renewal and rededication of a quarter-cent sales tax that is used for teachers’ benefits and salaries. Proposed rewording would allow the district’s non-certified employees to receive any excess from the tax.

Voters in St. Charles Parish will head to the polls on Saturday to decide two issues: who will fill the St. Charles Parish Council-at-Large Division B seat and whether they will approve renewal of the tax that supports St. Charles Parish Hospital.

The parish’s April 5 Spring Municipal Election to fill the council seat resulted in a runoff election between Democrat Jarvis Lewis and Republican Julia Fisher-Perrier.

Lewis, former St. Charles Parish deputy assessor, garnered the most votes in that race with 47 percent. Current Parish Council District 7 representative Perrier will be his opponent in the runoff. She had 38 percent of the vote. Less than 13 percent of voters headed to the polls in that election.

St. Charles Parish voters will also decide on the St. Charles Hospital millage renewal, which seeks no increase in rate.

Federico Martinez Jr., chief executive officer of St. Charles Parish Hospital, spoke before the St. Charles Council at the Jan. 6 meeting about the importance of the proposed election, which would establish the tax for the next 10 years. He said the current millage generates $2.64 million annually for the hospital and that the hospital was not seeking any increase in the current rate.

The current property tax makes up 7.2 percent of all annual hospital revenue, with the additional 92.8 percent coming from hospital-generated funds.

Martinez said the primary use of funds would support EMS and ER services, maintain and replace ambulances and equipment, provide advanced cardiac life support training for physicians and medical staff, support new emergency room operations and and pay operating expenses for the urgent care center currently under construction in Destrehan.

On election day, May 3, polling locations in St. John and St. Charles parishes will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.