ROBERT — The Florida Parishes Juvenile Justice Commission voted Wednesday to declare an emergency and seek State Bond Commission approval to place a failed tax proposal back on the ballot in April.
Voters in all five parishes the juvenile detention center serves — Livingston, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington — rejected renewal of the 3-mill, 10-year property tax in November.
The tax provides more than 85 percent of the detention center’s funding.
Financial adviser David Danel told commissioners Wednesday that if voters again reject the tax renewal on April 9, the detention center would run out of money sometime between mid-2017 and early 2018. The April ballot is the last opportunity for the commission to ensure the tax is on the rolls for 2016.
Human Resources Director Norleidy Hernandez said uncertainty about the facility’s future has not yet caused employees to resign, but prospective employees have been asking about job stability. Staff retention is definitely a concern, she said.
The tax proposition will be worded as the continuation of a levy, commission President David Merlin Duke said. But the commission’s bond attorneys rejected requests to include the word “renewal” in the proposition or to specify that the estimated annual revenue of $9.5 million would be generated across all five parishes in the district, he said.
The commission has levied only 2.75 mills for at least the past four years, Danel said.
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