Death, Taxes and the right to Vote

Death and taxes, we often bemoan, are the only certainties to life. Implied in that statement is people have no control over these pitfalls.

Tri-parish residents, in fact, have the power to decide a host of tax measures on the Nov. 16 ballot, which, despite its shortage of political candidates, will go a long way toward shaping the region’s future.

Grabbing the headlines in Lafourche is the tax rededication proposal that aims to divert a portion of the library system’s revenue toward funding construction of a new jail. The initiative is two-fold: It extends 3.8 parishwide mills – dedicated to constructing, improving, maintaining or operating library branches – through 2034, and it rededicates 1 of those mills to the acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of a new detention center.

A lot of money is at stake. Over the past 10 years, the value of 1 parishwide mill in Lafourche in terms of tax revenue has increased by 8 percent per year. Should its value rise by 3 percent over the course of the jail bond, the mill alone would raise $41.4 million over 30 years.

It is one of 12 Tri-parish propositions on the ballot.

Seven parishwide proposals are included on the Terrebonne Parish ballot.

Six are property-tax renewals: two for juvenile justice, one for Terrebonne Arc, one for drainage, one for a mental health center and one for elderly programs.

The seventh is a new, 1-percent occupancy tax, levied on users of hotels and motels, for the purpose of constructing the so-called Field of Dreams recreational complex.

In Houma, voters will determine whether to extend property taxes for fire- and police-protection services.

Aside from the library-jail proposal in Lafourche, Central Lafourche voters are posed with a 10-year renewal of an 8-mill tax for paying an ambulance-service contractor.

And in St. Mary Parish, Water and Sewer Commission No. 4 seeks the authority to issue up to $3 million in bonds for improvements to the waterworks plant and sewage treatment facilities.

Checking a box is not solely about electing people. Determining how to collect and spend public money is immensely important. We urge you to research the issues and to decide your region’s future.

Early voting ends Friday. Polls open Tuesday.

In America, the right to vote is as unassailable as death and taxes.