North Lafourche voters soundly reject sales tax proposal

Boustany keeps House seat as delegation shrinks
December 11, 2012
Theriot wins judge seat
December 11, 2012
Boustany keeps House seat as delegation shrinks
December 11, 2012
Theriot wins judge seat
December 11, 2012

North Lafourche voters on Saturday rejected a one-cent sales tax proposition that would have generated roughly $9 million per year for protection against flooding and storm surge.

Complete but unofficial results provided by the Secretary of State show that 3,307 (54.2 percent) voters opposed the measure, while 2,799 (45.8 percent) supported it. The office estimated voter turnout at 13.6 percent.

The 20-year tax would have been managed by the state-created North Lafourche Conservation, Levee and Drainage District and dedicated toward levee and drainage projects.

NLCLDD Executive Director Dwayne Bourgeois indicated that commissioners might approach voters with another tax proposition.

“The fact that we still have more work to do than we have money for remains, and we’ll try to continue to do what we can do and continue to work for the citizens,” Bourgeois said. “Obviously, you can rethink your amount or time period and put it back before the voters, give it a chance to increase awareness or make sure that we cover a few more of the issues. Other than that, there aren’t a lot of options.”

The proposal’s failure is in stark contrast to a half-cent sales tax for hurricane risk reduction projects in Terrebonne Parish that will be collected by its levee and conservation district after the measure passed with 71 percent of the vote.

“I’d say more than anything else it’s a lack of perceived threat of flooding, and frankly, we have been fairly lucky in the northern parts of Lafourche Parish,” Bourgeois said. “We haven’t had a lot of areas that have flooded, but it’s not that we’re a victim of our own success or anything.”

The district has a $248 million list of capital projects and can only afford $2 million per year toward that list in its current situation, which has created a 124-year backlog of work, Bourgeois said.

Commissioners introduced the long-discussed proposal in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, which illuminated drainage concerns in the Barataria Basin and threatened the Ward 6 (Des Allemands-Kramer-Chackbay-Bayou Boeuf) region with floodwater.

Even Councilman Phillip Gouaux, a staunch critic of NLCLDD, said he supported the tax. Unlike south Lafourche, whose residents can see levee protection, those in the northern reaches of the parish are protected by levees well beyond property lines, he said.

“It’s a false sense of security,” Gouaux said.

The district didn’t obtain a single dollar in state or federal grant money in 2012, according to its budget. Some grants are reimbursements delivered after a project’s completion, but state representatives have questioned the likelihood of the district obtaining significant state funding in the future.

“Our funding sources pretty much are what they are,” Bourgeois said. “This was an opportunity to ask the voters if they wanted to expedite things, and not enough of them said yes.”

The tax, which would have been collected north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, would have delivered the district approximately 300 percent more than its current $3 million per year revenue.

The current sales tax rate in north and central Lafourche is 8.7 percent – except for within Thibodaux city limits, which is 8 percent. The state collects a 4 percent sales tax, and voters are given the authority to levy more taxes for local expenses.

The Lafourche Parish Council presently collects 0.7 percent of taxable purchases for garbage pick-up. Because it rolled back to that amount from the 1 percent voters approved, the council can enact up to a 0.3 percent hike without further voter approval.


Voters renew Fresh Water District property tax

Lafourche residents anchored a regional vote that extended a property tax that funds the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District.

The 2.11-mill, 20-year renewal passed by a 7,573-to-2,742 tally, with 73 percent in support of the extension.

Of the 10,315 votes cast, 8,031 were by Lafourche residents. The proposal also faced voters in Ascension and Assumption parishes.

The renewal will last through 2033 and is estimated to raise $2.1 million each year.

The district is primarily charged with routing freshwater from the Mississippi River into Bayou Lafourche, the source of drinking water for about 300,000 people in the region.

Created more than 60 years ago, the district manages four 48-inch pumps at a station in Donaldsonville, where a man-made barrier was built to seal off the flow.

In addition to drinking water, sediment flow is important to restoring coastal marshlands.


3 elected to municipal posts

Also in Lafourche, Priscilla Mounic and Lindberg “Bap” Lorraine Jr. were elected to the Golden Meadow Town Council.

Mounic, a one-term incumbent, secured 307 votes, or 34 percent, and Lorraine garnered 284 votes, or 31 percent, in the four-person run-off.

Troy Dufrene and Mike Billiot received 19 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Mounic and Lorraine join Willis P. Toups, Jody P. Cheramie and David “Dave” Adams, who were elected in the Nov. 6 primary.

Turnout was 31.1 percent.

In Lockport, Sharon Robichaux Guidry defeated Ralph Sapia in the Town Council Division B race. Guidry received 268 votes, or 54 percent, in a race that had a 32.5 percent turnout.