West Baton Rouge Parish voters are being asked April 9 to renew a 1.75-mill property tax that provides a portion of the funding for the parish’s health center.
Early voting on the proposal, which is on the April 9 ballot, continues Monday through Saturday at the parish Registrar of Voters Office from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Phillip Bourgoyne, the parish’s finance director, says the property tax, which has been on the books since 1956, will generate approximately $633,924 annually from 2017 to 2026.
The West Baton Rouge Parish Health Unit, 685 Louisiana Ave., in Port Allen receives a portion of its operating funds from the state. But Bourgoyne says the property tax provides the bulk of the facility’s operating dollars to pay salaries, building upkeep and purchase equipment.
The parish’s Sanitation Office also falls under the health center’s umbrella, Bourgoyne said.
“If you relied just on state funding, we may not have a health unit in the parish,” he said.
Owners of houses with homestead exemption and valued at $175,000 pay $23.34 annually for the health unit tax, Bourgoyne estimates.
The Health Unit provides a multitude of services to the more than 100 patients who visit the facility on a monthly basis, said Clinical Supervisor Araviance “Rae” Anderson.
A majority of those patients are low-income families who depend on Medicaid and Medicare and single mothers who rely on the Louisiana WIC program.
“We get people in here from all over,” Anderson said. “If they don’t get the right services in another parish, they’ll come and see us.”
In addition to pediatric and prenatal care for expecting mothers, Anderson said, the center also provides birth control, STD testing, immunization and addictive disorder treatment to its patients.
“We’re here for people who can’t afford to go see private doctors,” she said.
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