JP Pres. Young defends his handling of millage renewals - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

JP Pres. Young defends his handling of millage renewals

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Elmwood, La. — Jefferson Parish President John Young faced a contentious meeting Thursday as some council members questioned whether he pushed hard enough to get property tax millages renewed.

Voters defeated millage renewals for the parish's water and sewerage systems on Saturday and there are serious financial consequences for the parish.

Without the millages, there is a $22 million hole in the budget. On top of that, a low interest $35 million state loan for sewerage system improvements was contingent on passage of the related millage.

"It's hard to deny the fact that the anti-toll fervor played a role in this election in terms of millage for water and sewerage," said Young.

Voters also decided the fate of the Crescent City Connection tolls, voting overwhelmingly to do away with the tolls.

Council Chairman Chris Roberts said Young and his administration failed to adequately inform the public about the importance of the millages.

"Look, you can always do more, you can always do more," replied Young.

"I just at some point have to question what our priorities are, John, okay?  Because there's an obligation for us to communicate," said Roberts.

Young said they faced serious limitations in reaching out to voters prior to the election because public tax dollars were involved. "There's some legal constraints, obviously, you know, we can comply with those legal constraints as to what you can say, what you can't say," he said.

Council members said the administration never enlisted their help in reaching out to voters.

"No one ever came to me and asked me, 'Would you go out and promote the tax?'  And that's a problem we've had for a while now," said Councilman Elton Lagasse.

"If anybody had any expectation that the toll vote was going to influence this in some kind of way, a bell should have gone off in somebody's mind to say, 'Guess what, we need to really do our best to educate,'" said Roberts.

The council will decide Wednesday whether to declare an emergency concerning the millages, which expired in December, as well as a resolution urging the state to allow the parish to put the millages back on the ballot in October.

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