Millage renewal concerns funding for developmentally disabled adults

Published 4:54 pm Friday, October 7, 2022

LAPLACE — A millage renewal on the November 8 ballot concerns funding for the St. John Arc, an organization that promotes the inclusion of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Parishwide Proposition No. 1 of 2 on the ballot asks voters whether St. John the Baptist Parish shall continue to levy a 1 mill tax on all property subject to taxation, generating an estimated $772,900 per year from 2023 to 2032. This funding is to be used for the purpose of maintaining and operating public buildings used to house developmentally disabled persons, including payment of salaries and costs for conducting training programs for these individuals.

St. John Arc director Linda Lambert said the millage renewal is crucial to providing services, especially as the organization continues to recover from Hurricane Ida.

“We just don’t bring in enough money without the millage. That covers our buses and our gas, extra things for the clients, and allows us to keep the electricity on,” Lambert said. “With the price of everything, we just don’t bring in enough money to keep it open otherwise.”

The millage, in conjunction with more than 25 years of St. John Arc savings, helped fund a new building with an expanded work area, additional classrooms and a larger cafeteria with improved wheelchair accessibility for clients in the day development program.

The building at 101 Bamboo Road opened in 2021 as a safe haven for disabled adults – a space for not only learning and workforce training, but also for rest and relaxation. The bold shapes and colors on the exterior of the building were designed to represent the people the St. John Arc serves.

Just a few months after the building’s long-awaited opening, clients were displaced by damage from Hurricane Ida.

“We have the building gutted, and we’re just waiting for the rest of our insurance money so we can put everything back together,” Lambert said.
The St. John Arc is currently stationed at First Baptist Church in LaPlace. The church provides a safe space for approximately 30 clients each day, while others have been unable to return to the day development program since Hurricane Ida.

“We lost our buses, and there are not a lot of buses available, so we are still waiting for some to come in. Parents are bringing them to the church until we can get back into our building,” Lambert said. “We have clients who live across the river who don’t have the transportation to get here. Some have been using the parish transportation.”

Despite the challenges, Lambert said the staff tries to keep clients occupied to instill a sense of normalcy. Clients have taken trips to the nearby shopping center and have received visits from several individuals and businesses in the community.

According to Lambert, the clients thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the St. John Parish Fire Department. They have been able to earn money cleaning the Wee Care Center, and they will soon participate in the church’s Trunk of Treat event.

Lambert said a partnership with the Louisiana Workforce Commission will open the doors to more opportunities, especially once buses are back in place.
“We are getting things back gradually, just like everybody else,” she said. “The clients are happy to be here together.”

For more information about the St. John Arc, visit https://thearc.org/chapter/st-john-arc/

More information about the November 8 election, including sample ballots, can be obtained at sos.la.gov.