(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, May 02, 2014 11:28 AM
An array of tax propositions confront voters in Calcasieu Parish on Saturday’s ballot.
Voters parishwide fulfilling their civic duty will decide on renewals of a property tax and a sales tax that are vital to the operations of the Calcasieu Parish school system.
The 10-year, 3.5-mill property tax generates about $6 million a year for maintenance, instructional materials, textbooks and technology in the system’s 60-plus schools. A mill is one-tenth of a penny.
An accompanying half-cent sales tax, first passed 20 years ago, is dedicated to funding teachers’ salaries and benefits. The tax raises about $22.5 million a year and accounts for about 12 percent of all school system employees’ salaries.
The American Press recommends approval of both taxes.
Voters inside Lake Charles’ city limits are being asked to renew two sales tax propositions that fund city operations and some city employee salaries and benefits.
A one-cent sales tax that nets about $21.3 million annually is used for building new roads and repaving and improving existing ones, street lighting, maintaining and purchasing new fire equipment and stations, garbage and sewer disposal and improvements to the lakefront.
A quarter-cent sales tax that raises about $5.3 million a year helps fund the pay and benefits of city employees, including the police, fire and public works departments.
The American Press recommends renewal of these taxes.
Voters in Ward 3 will decide the fate of two new property taxes that would be dedicated to maintaining and upgrading recreational facilities and parks in the district. A 5.5-mill property tax that raises about $3.3 million annually would be used to maintain and operate the recreation facilities.
A 3.3-mill property tax would be used to buy $16 millions in bonds that would be used to fund the building of an aquatic center, baseball fields, tennis courts, gyms and dog parks.
Approval of both taxes would also allow the district to take over and improve four parks that are now run by the city of Lake Charles — the Second Avenue Senior Center and Martin Luther King, Huber and University parks.
Because these facilities and the proposed new ones provide a wide range of recreational and health opportunities for all ages, the American Press recommends approval of these two taxes.
Two other renewals — a 14.6-mill property tax that funds maintenance and operations in Ward 2 Gravity Drainage District 9 and a 6.24-mill property tax that funds Waterworks District 8 of Wards 3 and 8 — also merit voter approval.
Sulphur voters will also select their mayor for the next four years in a runoff that pits incumbent Chris Duncan against former Mayor Ron LeLeux.
Historically, tax proposition elections draw low voter turnout. We encourage voters in the parish to take a few minutes Saturday to determine the outcome of these proposals.