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River region voters say ‘yes’ at polls

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish voters have chosen to renew a property tax set to expire at the end of the year.

Saturday’s sparsely participated in election saw a 10-year extension of a 1 mill tax, which generates approximately $450,000 annually.

Unofficial numbers from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office showed St. John voters chose to renew the tax by a tally of 1,267 (70.86 percent) votes to 521 (29.14 percent).

With the renewal, the parish maintains $447,000 for maintenance of buildings beginning in 2016, parish officials said.

“Thank you to all residents who voted to renew the millage in the recent election,” Parish President Natalie Robottom said.

“Passage of the proposition is a testament to the parish’s informational campaign and residents’ faith that government would continue to use those funds to operate and maintain the courthouse, Percy Hebert Building and jail.”

Parish Chief Financial Officer Vince Lucia said passage of the tax, which has been in place since at least 1996, means no changes in parish homeowner’s taxes.

“Passage of this millage was needed to continue daily maintenance and operations of our parish buildings,” Lucia said. “We appreciate those who took time to vote in this election.”

St. James Parish

St. James Parish voters passed a parishwide school district bond election Saturday, clearing the way for massive change in the district’s makeup.

Voters extended for two decades an existing 10-mill property tax, creating up to $56 million for the School Board to enact expansive plans.

The measure passed by an almost 3-to-1 margin, with 2,136 votes for the tax extension and 741 against.

The School Board has directed the administration to make upgrades at Fifth Ward, Sixth Ward and Vacherie Elementary Schools on the West Bank and Lutcher, Gramercy and Paulina Elementary Schools on the East Bank.

The school district also plans to change some grade levels, with Lutcher Elementary becoming a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade facility, and Paulina and Gramercy Elementary Schools splitting the sixth graders from Lutcher Elementary.

Also approved was the proposed merger of the Career and Technology Campus and the Science Math Academy at the present Career and Technology Campus to become an early college high school program with an upgraded facility.

A Performing Arts Academy and sixth grade will also be added to construction of a new St. James High School near the recently completed football stadium in Vacherie.

St. Charles Parish

Voters in St. Charles Parish passed four measures designed to help many areas, including levee protection and education options.

Approved 3,889 to 1,344, Proposition 1 renews an existing 2.2 mill property tax for 30 years to finance wastewater system improvements and allow the parish to use a portion of the revenue to meet maintenance and operations expenses for the system once the bonds are paid.

Proposition 2 — approved 3,644 to 1,584 — is a new 4-mill property tax designated for building a $300 million flood protection levee system on the parish’s West Bank and completing the levee system on the parish’s East Bank in Montz, which is outside the federal levee system.

Voters agreed with Proposition No. 3 by a 3,539 to 1,681 tally, approving a .7 mills tax for 10 years to operate, maintain and construct facilities and for providing services associated with the ARC of St. Charles for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in St. Charles Parish. An estimated $843,000 is expected to be collected from the tax each year.

By a tally of 3,102 to 2,122, voters approved a $42 million bond issue allowing the public school system to construct a performing arts center in Luling, while also funding upgrades for safety measures and classrooms.

— Stephen Hemelt contributed to this report.