Nov. 13 Election: Water system upgrades could come at cost savings to residents

Published 1:33 pm Thursday, November 4, 2021

LAPLACE — Proposition No. 4 on the ballot for the November 13 election is of particular importance to St. John the Baptist Parish residents who went up to 14 days without running water in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

According to Parish President Jaclyn Hotard, a vote “yes” on Proposition No. 4 would generate much-needed funding for upgrades and relocations of Parish drinking water systems. This does not represent a new tax or an increase in taxes. Instead, the request reflects a 1.25 mills reduction from the amount currently being levied.

“This is probably the most important proposition that we have on the ballot. Our (LaPlace) water system is 12 miles away. It’s basically at the Tangipahoa Parish line, and it goes underwater all the time. The residents of LaPlace specifically know after Hurricane Ida just how long we were without water because of the challenges accessing this system,” Hotard said.

While relocating the LaPlace water system out of Ruddock and onto the Mississippi River has been one of Hotard’s priorities since she was elected, Proposition No. 4 would also improve water systems servicing Reserve, Garyville and the West Bank.

As it currently stands, the St. John Parish water systems have limitations related to capacity and the inability to co-mingle well water with river water.

“We already have a water line under the river from the West Bank to the East Bank, but if you don’t have capacity, what good is the water line? In this particular bond issue, we have a comprehensive improvement plan that is going to take the water system from Ruddock onto the river. It is going to increase capacity at the Lions water system, which services Reserve and Garyville, and make upgrades to the West Bank system,” Hotard said. “This will improve all three of those systems so we have availability, quality drinking water and redundancy in the system, so we can hopefully have fewer outages and water boil advisories.”

If approved, Proposition No. 4 would roll back the general obligation bond millage from 12.5 to 11.25, representing a cost savings for taxpayers.

“In this case, we are going to be rolling back on what we are currently collecting,” Hotard said. “We’ve been able to accomplish that a few ways. For example, we refinanced some bonds last year that saved us about $300,000 per year. We’ve been really good about our spending and finances to where we can borrow more money to do more projects, and it costs our taxpayers less.”

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, November 13.

The list of temporary polling places can be found at the following link: https://www.lobservateur.com/2021/10/19/registrar-of-voters-announces-emergency-temporary-polling-places/