LIVINGSTON — Livingston Parish voters will get a second chance to approve funding for the parish health unit, Live Oak recreation and Holden fire district in May, but a proposal to fund parishwide animal control has been put on hold.
The Parish Council voted Thursday night to put a 2.5-mill property tax to fund the parish health unit on the May 2 ballot. The facility was previously funded through a 5-mill tax, but voters rejected its renewal in November.
Council members agreed last month to reduce the tax proposal to roughly match the facility’s $1.1 million annual budget, rather than continuing to add to the health unit’s $6.6 million surplus.
A 15-mill tax for Recreation District 2, which runs the Live Oak sports complex, and an 11.1-mill tax for Fire District 10 in Holden also will be on the May 2 ballot, after both renewals were defeated in December.
Councilman Ricky Goff’s proposal to seek a 1-mill tax to fund parishwide animal control has been delayed, though, while Council Chairman Chance Parent speaks with area legislators about changing state law to allow for a per-household “user fee” to fund the program.
Parent said he thought a user fee would be fairer than a property tax, which puts the financial burden on homeowners rather than evenly distributing it among all households.
Goff said he hoped a funding proposal for animal control — whether through a property tax or a user fee — could be placed on the Oct. 24 ballot, when parishwide elections likely will provide a higher voter turnout.
In other business, the council approved the low bid of $4.47 million from R.J. Daigle & Sons for the parish’s road overlay program, but the list of roads to be overlayed drew some criticism Thursday night.
Road work is expected to begin in about six weeks, with four crews working simultaneously, officials said.
Scott Jones, who helped organize a petition in 2008 to improve the parish’s road standards, said two of the roads scheduled for overlay work are too lightly traveled to deserve parish-funded improvements and one may have been improperly accepted into the parish maintenance system.
Jones, who ran unsuccessfully for the District 6 council seat in 2011, pressed that district’s council representative, Sonya Collins, for an explanation as to why Cuba Wheat Road in Colyell and Cypress Point Lane near French Settlement had been prioritized above more heavily traveled and potentially treacherous roads like Joe May Road south of Walker.
Collins said a school bus driver asked her two years ago to help improve Cuba Wheat Road and its bus turnaround. She said dust problems on Cypress Point Lane, which is a gravel road, warranted paving the portion fronted by houses.
Jones challenged the legality of Cuba Wheat’s acceptance into the parish maintenance system, saying residents who petitioned for the road to be accepted did not own property along the road as required by law.
He asked that the road be removed from the list completely.
Parish legal adviser Christopher Moody said he would research the road’s history and report back to the council.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen. Contact her by phone at (225) 336-6981.