The East Baton Rouge Parish ballot for the Nov. 21 election includes a measure dealing with the parish’s plan of government. Meanwhile, voters in five nearby parishes will decide whether to renew a property tax for juvenile justice. And in Lafayette Parish, voters will decide the fate of two proposed changes to the parish charter and a proposed renewal of a tax for public schools. Here are our positions on these issues.
East Baton Rouge Plan of Government: Yes
A modest bit of housekeeping, a proposed change in the Plan of Government distributes to the cities of Baton Rouge, Zachary, Baker and Central according to population the proceeds of a 3-mill general property tax. The document was last changed in 1964 and since then Central has become a city; currently, the section refers to three cities in the parish.
We urge citizens to approve the change.
Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center: Yes.
Voters in five parishes will vote on renewal of a property tax that funds operations of the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center.
The 3-mill property tax for 10 years provides the bulk of the operating money for the juvenile center that serves Livingston, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.
By banding together, the parishes have demonstrated leadership in providing an alternative to housing troubled adolescents in adult jails. At $9.5 million a year, it’s a good investment in public safety.
The tax was first approved 10 years ago. We urge voters to back the renewal.
Lafayette Parish Charter Proposition 1: Mayor-President. Yes
The proposals aims to settle what has been some terminological confusion. It provides that the title of the parish’s chief executive will be mayor-president.
We support this change. Not that many people will take notice of it, we think, because most people will still be likely to call Lafayette’s leader the mayor. But there is no harm in formalizing the title.
Lafayette Parish Proposition 2: Planning Commission. Yes
Of more substantive concern than titles is a proposal that expands the planning and zoning commission from five to seven members. They will be appointed for five-year staggered terms with four members from within the city limits of Lafayette and three members outside the corporate limits of any municipality.
Vacancies will be filled by the City-Parish Council. While this is more than housekeeping, it is also not an earthshaking change. But it does reflect the added workload on the commission and city-parish officials coping with growth and bringing into law a comprehensive new master plan for future development.
We support this amendment.
Lafayette Parish schools tax renewal. Yes.
Thanks to the presence of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a vibrant technology sector and recent upgrades to its public library system, Lafayette is well positioned to advance itself as a learning community.
A strong public school system is also vital in sustaining and growing Lafayette’s intellectual capital, a key part of Acadiana’s economic future. That’s why we support the proposed renewal of a 7.27-mill property tax for Lafayette public schools on the Nov. 21 ballot.
This is a tax renewal, not a new tax, and if approved, it would last 10 years. The tax generates an estimated $14 million per year. The Lafayette Parish public school system plans to use the money to help support existing programs and maintain its level of salary and benefits for teachers. Proceeds of the tax will also be used to help make the school system more energy efficient.
We urge voters to renew the tax Saturday.