It has never been a secret that once the U.S. government at the cost of billions restored and improved the hurricane protection for the greater New Orleans area, eventually we in the region would have to pay more for maintenance and operation of the facilities.

The Lake Borgne Levee District is part of that protection system in St. Bernard Parish. It operates both the behind-the-levees system for protecting against flash floods and the new and larger “perimeter” system that protects developed portions of the parish.

Unfortunately, St. Bernard voters did not approve a proposed millage in December that would have helped sustain the levee system. That the flooding and hurricane situation has been so quiet may contribute to a sense of complacency. If so, that is misplaced.

Now, district officials are trying again with a millage proposal on the May 2 ballot. It’s a big 7.5 mills increase, raising $2.6 million more each year for the district’s operations and maintenance. With existing taxes, and passage of this new one, the district would have 18.6 mills for its protection — a vital insurance policy for the parish and the entire metropolitan area.

We recognize that there’s rarely a good time for a tax increase, but we also recognize that the long-term health of our region depends on local revenues being spent on operation of the new gates and pumps and other elements of hurricane and flood protection.

We urge St. Bernard Parish voters to approve this increase.