Voters could be asked to weigh in on health unit, library funding

Published 12:10 am Saturday, January 9, 2016

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish residents could be weighing in on the operating budgets of the St. John Parish Health Unit and the St. John the Baptist Parish Library System if Parish Council members pave the way for tax renewal elections this spring.

St. John the Baptist Parish Council members are meeting Monday, with one of the agenda items listed as the approval of a special election concerning the Health Unit and Library System.

If approved as expected, an election will be set for April 9, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Early voting would run from March 26 through April 2, except March 27.

One of the proposed propositions calls for the tax renewal of 9.94 mills on all property in St. John Parish subject to taxation for 10 years, beginning in 2018.

The tax is estimated to generate $4,484,200 a year based on previous years’ property sales tax collections.

Money generated from the tax is earmarked for maintaining, constructing and operating the public libraries in St. John Parish, which consists of a main branch in LaPlace and other locations in Edgard, Garyville and Reserve.

The other proposition calls for the continuance of a .96 mills tax for 10 years, beginning in 2018, which would generate $433,000 annually to maintain and operate the parish’s public health unit.

The St. John Health Unit is a Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals run facility located at 473 Central Avenue in Reserve.

The health unit offers an array of medical services.

A parish spokesperson said St. John Government owns and maintains the building, but services provided are federally funded.

A millage is tax that is put on real and personal property, according to the St. John the Baptist Parish Assessor’s office.

Real property is considered land and buildings, while personal property would be computer equipment and similar items.

Information provided by the Assessor’s office indicated a millage of .96 on a $150,000 home would cause the owner to pay $7.20 annually. For the same value home, a 9.94 mills tax would lead to a $74.55 bill annually.

For a home valued at $300,000, the .96 millage would generate $21.60 in taxes, while 9.94 mills would generate $211.50.