It’s an election day again, with a number of tax renewals or other propositions on ballots throughout the Baton Rouge area.
Here, we present our recommendations on two significant proposals before voters in Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes. Information on voting on these and other issues can be found at the office of Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, www.sos.la.gov.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. We urge voters here and across the state to cast an informed ballot.
St. George Fire: YES
While the name “St. George” has been much in the news, regarding a potential election one day on a possible city by that name, the proposal on the ballot is for the long-existing St. George Fire Department and is not related to the city idea.
A quality fire department, enjoyed in both the St. George district across the southern end of the parish and in the city of Baton Rouge as well, is not only an important public safety component in our community. It is also a significant benefit for homeowners because of better rates on insurance.
Two St. George propositions are on the ballot.
The fire department requests renewal of an existing 1.25 millage for operations and adding another 2 mills for needed improvements of the water system and a new station in the growing Nicholson/Bluebonnet area.
Both are for 10-year periods.
The growth in the south of the parish continues and quality fire and emergency services cost money. We hope voters will continue to support the St. George firefighters and first-responders in their critical missions.
Livingston Health Unit: YES
The parishwide tax on Livingston ballots is a re-do of sorts. An earlier proposal had grossly misstated the amount of money the original 5-mill health unit tax would collect. When the error was exposed in The Advocate, officials rightly said that even if the tax passed, they would seek to invalidate the result.
As it turned out, the proposal was rejected, but that means that continuing health services in the parish requires another vote.
The parish again asks voters to support public health with a 2.5-mill property tax, essentially a 10-year renewal of a long-standing tax, though at a lower millage, thus providing some tax relief. Two smaller tax renewals, for recreation in Watson and fire protection in Holden, also are up for a re-do.
The new tax plan is halved, so it is technically a new tax and not a renewal. Nevertheless, it deserves to pass.
The parish health unit is a vital service, and the reserves it maintains for emergencies make it something of a political target. With the lower millage, the health unit will still show a small surplus in its current budget.
A local service like the health unit allows the parish to tap federal and state sources of money for its activities, returning more tax dollars to the parish. Nevertheless, the ultimate burden for local services lies with local taxpayers. We urge voters to approve the health unit millage.