Property tax renewals to be decided in Jefferson Parish

Published: May. 3, 2013 at 10:32 PM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2013 at 10:32 PM CDT
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East Bank Water Works on Jefferson Highway.
East Bank Water Works on Jefferson Highway.

New Orleans, La. — Jefferson Parish voters face major property tax renewals on Saturday's ballot.  Voters in unincorporated Jefferson Parish and in Harahan, Kenner, Jean Lafitte and Grand Isle will decide whether to renew a 5-mill property tax which funds improvements to the parish's water system.

"To make sure that we comply with EPA and DEQ operations... it's about a third of the operating budget to provide the necessary services, to continue to deliver quality drinking water to our citizens," said Parish President John Young.

If renewed and the parish levies all five mills, the parish says the cost for properties valued at $100,000 would be $12.50 a year.

There is also the proposed renewal of 5 mills for the sewerage system covering unincorporated Jefferson and Lafitte.

"It pays for the necessary services… when you flush your toilet you want to make sure the sewage goes out," said Young.

An April 19 letter Jefferson Parish property owners received from Assessor Tom Capella warns voters that passage of the millage renewals will increase property tax bills.

"On Saturday, May 4, 2013, you will be asked to vote on three millage renewals in various areas within Jefferson Parish which, if passed, will result in an increase on your 2013 property tax bill," Capella wrote.

"I have a difference in opinion on that.  We have a legal opinion from our bond counsel," Young stated.

Reached Friday, Capella said he stands by the wording of his letter.  "I'm not taking a position on the propositions. As assessor it is my job to let the citizens know the implications of elections dealing with property taxes," Capella said.

Last year the parish did not collect all five mills and Young said he expects, if the renewals are approved, adjustments will be made this year.

"Even though millage renewal gives you the authority to go up to it in case you need that, historically they've always adjusted it to the same rate," Young said.

Also Jefferson Parish voters will be asked to renew the Fire Protection District #5 millage. It applies to Terrytown, unincorporated Gretna, and the Timberlane Subdivision.

The referendum to renew tolls for the Crescent City Connection bridge will be voted on by Jefferson, Orleans and Plaquemines Parish voters.

"It's going to be difficult to get the tolls approved, because supporters just don't have the momentum that they had previously," said political analyst Silas Lee.

There is some concern that some people voting against toll renewal may continue pushing the "No" button when voting on the millage renewals.

"You always have a concern but I'm confident that the people, the citizens of Jefferson Parish are going to be informed.  And there's a difference between the tolls and the sewerage and water renewals," said Young.

Dr. Lee believes the millage renewals will get voter approval.  "Unless something occurred with that referendum or that initiative that was scandalous, they overwhelmingly get approved," he said.