Jefferson Parish Council wants new election on millages - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Jefferson Parish Council wants new election on millages

Updated:
Residents address the Parish Council on the millage proposals. Residents address the Parish Council on the millage proposals.

Elmwood, La. — The Jefferson Parish Council voted Wednesday in favor of holding a second election on property tax millages voters rejected earlier this month.

When voters rejected the property tax renewals for the parish's water and sewerage systems parish leaders said they were suddenly facing a financial crisis. Water and sewerage system officials continue to issue dire warnings.

"The failure of these millages could in fact result in an emergency as it relates to public health or the environment," said Doug Vincent, director of the Jefferson Parish Water Department.

"We're going to see a serious decline in our level of service, which is going to create some public health issues. We're going to have overflows in the street," said Linda Daly, director of the Jefferson Parish Sewerage Department.

So parish officials said the millage proposals must be put before voters again this year. Parish President John Young pushed for the same five-mill proposition to be placed back on the ballot in October.

"I want to make it clear, we are doing what we think is in the best interest of the parish. We are not asking for additional rates," said Young.

His administration said, even though all five mills that were authorized were not assessed against property owners last year, the parish needs to have all of the mills at its disposal in case severe weather damages the water and sewerage system infrastructure.

But four members of the council argued that voters rejected the five mills and should not be asked to reconsider that amount.

"What I can't get over is that voters have spoken on May 4 and we don't like the results and it's an anomaly," said Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng.

While Young stuck to his recommendation that all five mills should be on the ballot, he was rebuffed by a majority of the council members.

"People in the public out there want us to do more with less and quit going back to them for more dollars," said Councilman Ricky Templet.

In the end, the council voted to place a millage of 3.58 on the ballot for the sewerage system and 3.54 for the water system.

The state must still okay the special election.

After the last election, the Parish Council criticized Young and his administration, saying they did not do enough to educate voters about the importance of the millage renewals. Young said this time a marketing plan will be in place.

"Y'all have a marketing plan... and I think if we would have probably done this before we probably wouldn't be sitting here, but that's water under the bridge now," said Councilman Elton Lagasse.

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