Election Saturday determining property tax, St. John Council & State Senate

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

LAPLACE — Building a levee would be a giant step toward providing hurricane and flood protection for homes, businesses, schools, law enforcement, first responders and critical evacuation routes.

St. John the Baptist Parish’s elected Council members and Parish President are lobbying to fund that effort, in part, through a new 7-mill property tax initiative set for final approval on Election Day this Saturday.

All eligible voters in St. John the Baptist Parish are asked to participate as polls will be open parishwide from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The system is designed to stop storm surge from getting into people’s homes, according to Ricky Boyett, chief of public affairs for the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Should the effort receive federal funding, St. John the Baptist Parish Government’s cost-share would be $50 million, with annual maintenance costs of $5 million.

The gigantic project crossed a major hurdle in 2016 when then-President Barack Obama officially signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act into law. It includes the Westshore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Risk Reduction Project that aims to create levee protections for St. John the Baptist, St. Charles and St. James parishes.

Congress still must to create a spending vehicle to fund the majority portion of the massive project.

St. John Parish officials’ pitch to local voters is the 7-mill property tax would generate the local financial match through a 30-year, dedicated source.

Should federal leaders fail to deliver the funds necessary for the project, local leaders said the tax money would be used to create enhanced locally sourced flood protection.

If passed, Parish President Natalie Robottom said homeowners would see their annual taxes increase by approximately $17 for homes valued at $100,000 to $650 for homes valued at $1 million. Residents with homes valued under $75,000 will pay nothing, seniors over 65 whose taxes are frozen will see no increase and veterans who are 100 percent disabled receive a double Homestead Exemption, Robottom said.

Parish Council

The long and winding path to a permanent District 7 Parish Council representative comes to an end Saturday through the runoff election between LaPlace residents Thomas Malik and Steven Fraker.

Each is vying for the seat left open when Buddy Boe resigned nearly a year ago to serve on Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser’s staff.

Local businesswoman Raj Pannu, appointed by the Parish Council, has served in the interim.

Malik and Fraker were the top vote getters in March 25’s general election, with Malik topping a field of three by capturing 43 percent of the vote.

Turnout this weekend is expected to be larger then the Council race’s March effort, when Malik secured 302 votes and Fraker 204 votes, representing less than 15 percent of eligible voter turnout.

State Senate

A bloated field of 13 candidates is seeking Louisiana’s 2nd Senatorial District seat left vacant with the resignation of State Sen. Troy Brown.

A runoff will almost assuredly be needed for one of the candidates to capture a majority, and that potential election decider looms May 27 following this Saturday’s initial results.

St. John the Baptist Parish School Board President Albert “Ali” Burl III of Garyville and Jamie Roussell of Mt. Airy highlight the St. John Parish residents who have thrown their names into consideration.