Terrebonne voters to decide on sales tax - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Terrebonne voters to decide on sales tax


Houma, La. - Reggie Dupre gives more credit to luck, not the levee system, for keeping Terrebonne Parish dry during Issac.

"Had the eye of Isaac got stuck over Morgan City, over Franklin, over New Iberia, large residential areas in Houma would have been like LaPlace," he says.

Dupre, executive director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District, says the parish can't afford to wait for more protection.

Voters on December 8 will decide whether or not to add another half-cent to the sales tax, bringing the total sales tax up to 9 percent in Terrebonne Parish.

The extra half-cent would generate $12 million a year, money that would go to the interim Morganza-to-the-Gulf storm protection system.  The levee district would bond out the money generated by the tax, raising enough to pay for most of the project.

"For the $190 million initial plan, which is 150 of local revenue, we could finish the gaps between Pointe Aux Chene to Bayou Dularge, including some work in Bayou Dularge and build the first lifts of the protection system in the Bayou Black and Gibson area," says Dupre. "It will provide us 10- to 12-foot levees and we'll be building our flood gates to 18 feet above sea level."

The half-cent sales tax would be in addition to a quarter-cent tax shoppers already pay for levee protection. Property owners are also taxed to pay for the Levee District's operating costs.

Opponents of the tax worried how the money would be spent. The Levee District says all of it will go to building and maintenance of the system, not salaries.

The completed levee system would be the framework for a federally-funded Morganza-to-the-Gulf.

"It just makes logical sense... you can't build a 20-foot levee all the 20-foot right away," says project manager Mitch Marmande. "You have to build it in lifts, so this is the first step of that."

There is no federal money slated for the levee system anytime soon -- supporters of the additional sales tax say people in Terrebonne Parish need to pick up the tab.

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