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Police Jury puts sewer expansion sales tax on ballot

Last Modified: Thursday, November 07, 2013 9:40 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

Residents in Calcasieu Parish’s unincorporated areas will decide on April 5 whether to approve a new 20-year, quarter-cent sales tax that will partially fund a $110 million sewer expansion plan.

At its Thursday regular meeting, police jurors approved putting the item on the ballot and creating a separate sales tax district in the unincorporated areas. If approved, the sales tax would generate about $4.3 million each year for the sewer expansion plan. Other funding sources include $56 million in parish gambling funds over 10 years and nearly $12 million in state capital outlay money.

If the tax is approved, the existing road and garbage tax being levied in Wards 2-8 will be reduced from 1.5 cents to 1.25 cents. Residents in Ward 1, including Moss Bluff and Gillis, do not pay that particular tax.

Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said the sewer expansion proposal will benefit residents over the long term.

“There has been very good discussion on this over the last several months in putting this plan together,” he said. “It’s been put through a lot of hoops to get to this point, and we feel very good about this proposal.”

Police Jury President Shannon Spell said it’s important to have adequate infrastructure to accommodate the projected growth within the parish over the next several years.

“When it comes to illicit wastewater discharge, it is a blight upon our parish,” he said. “It will not only address the public safety and health of our citizens, but will also provide framework for economic development in areas because the infrastructure is in place to accommodate that.”

Spell, who represents part of Ward 1, said he has received “mixed” comments from some residents over the proposed sales tax. But he said discussion on the issue should continue within the community over the next several months.

“We have put the decision in the hands of the people,” he said. “I hope people recognize the value of this investment.”

No residents spoke during a public hearing on creating the sales tax district during the meeting.

Tax renewals

The panel also approved putting several tax renewals on the April ballot, including a 10-year, 2.41-mill parishwide property tax to fund mosquito control. The tax has been in place since 1975 and could generate $4.16 million annually, if approved.

Another renewal includes a 10-year, 3.16-mill parishwide property tax to fund operations for the District Attorney’s Office and the 14th Judicial District Court. The tax was first approved in 1985 and would generate about $5.45 million each year.

A 10-year, 0.63-mill property tax renewal will also be on the ballot to fund operations at Lake Charles Regional Airport. The tax is levied to residents in Ward 3 and parts of Ward 4.

A 10-year, 6.39-mill property tax renewal would fund maintenance and operating costs for Waterworks District 5 of Wards 3 and 8. The tax would be paid by residents within the district and would generate about $160,079 annually.

If approved, all tax renewals would become effective Jan. 1, 2015.

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