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Turnout backs River Region initiatives

The turnout wasn’t strong, but the message was.

River Region voters believe in the plans of local government, enough so to continue supporting existing taxes, while also funding new projects that will radically change the region’s educational and flood protection footprint.

In St. John the Baptist Parish, more than 70 percent of the voter turnout May 9 and during early voting backed a 10-year extension of a 1 mill tax to generate approximately $450,000 annually to allow, parish official said, the continued daily maintenance and operations of parish buildings.

In St. James Parish an even greater margin of voters backed School Board plans for a $56 million capital improvement effort to improve all of the parish’s public schools via extension of an existing 10-mill ad valorem property tax.

St. James leaders plan to construct a new St. James High School off Louisiana 20 near Vacherie where the new football stadium was built. The new campus will house state-of-the-art classroom technology and lab equipment, a Performing Arts Center for concentrated electives in art, music and drama and include a self-contained middle school section for grades sixth through eighth.

The District will also combine its Career Tech Center and Science & Math Academy to create a new Early College High School, bringing the dual-credit programs and career certification classes under one roof.

In St. Charles Parish, a new 4-mill property tax — in a sure sign of public support — was approved to finance construction of a $300 million flood protection levee system on the parish’s West Bank and complete the levee system on the parish’s East Bank around Montz.

An existing 2.2 mill property tax was extended to finance wastewater system improvements, a .7 mills tax was approved to maintain facilities and services associated for the ARC of St. Charles, and a $42 million bond issue received the go ahead to construct a performing arts center in Luling, while also funding upgrades for safety measures and classrooms.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools put out a thank you following last weekend’s positive election results: “Thank you for your vote of confidence in the May 2 Bond Issue Election. The St. Charles Parish School Board would like to thank all of our employees, parents and the citizens of St. Charles Parish for providing the funding necessary to continue excellent educational opportunities in safe, secure, state-of-the-art facilities.”

At an approval rate of 59.38 percent for, compared to 40.62 percent against, the St. Charles Parish Schools vote actually represented the most contested election in the River Parishes.

With six emphatic “yeses” across the River Parishes, local government and school leaders have been handed the mandate to impact positive change locally.

There are no excuses now. The public deserves results.