Voters approve millage votes; elect Jarvis Lewis in St. Charles

Published 11:20 pm Saturday, May 3, 2014

LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parish voters made their voices heard at the polls Saturday by casting their ballots in several millage votes and one council seat.

In St. John Parish, voters decided to renew two existing taxes and voted to allow the school district 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, previously said the two proposed taxes contained no raises in existing rates and the votes would simply renew current charges.

One of the existing taxes on the ballot authorized 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.

1,437 voters or 67 percent approved the measure, while 714 voters or 33 percent were against the effort.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s office reported a 7.3-percent turnout of registered voters.

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

Voters approved the measure Saturday with 1,272 (59 percent) in favor and 880 (41 percent) against.

Voters in St. Charles Parish filled the St. Charles Parish Council-at-Large Division B seat with Jarvis Lewis, who collected 3,590 votes (51 percent) compared to Julia Fisher-Perrier, who tallied 3,465 votes (49 percent).

The state reported the turnout represented 20.6 percent of available voters.

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

Lewis, former St. Charles Parish deputy assessor, garnered the most votes in that race with 47 percent. Current Parish Council District 7 representative Fisher-Perrier was his his opponent in the runoff. She had 38 percent of the vote previously.

St. Charles Parish voters also approved the St. Charles Hospital millage renewal Saturday with 69 percent (4,381) in favor and 31 percent (1,996) against.

Federico Martinez Jr., chief executive officer of St. Charles Parish Hospital, spoke before the St. Charles Council earlier about the importance of the proposed election, which established 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.