St. Charles Parish voters on Saturday approved all four propositions on the parishwide ballot.
The ballot consisted of three property tax requests and a $42 million bond issue for the parish’s school system, which will help pay for a new, 1,300-seat performing arts center in Luling.
The item that garnered the most support was a new 4-mill, 30-year property tax for flood-protection projects, which will generate $4.8 million annually. The measure passed with support from almost three-quarters of voters — 3,889 residents in all, according to preliminary figures from the secretary of state’s office.
The new tax gives parish officials a steady revenue source to pay for a slew of proposed flood-protection projects, which are likely about 15 years away from completion. The parish could also generate $87 million from bonds by 2026 and then leverage those funds to land $70 million in potential state grants and other revenues, officials say.
The projects will carry a price tag of nearly $300 million; almost $35 million in local money has already been spent. The work is set to include two new pump stations on the East Bank hurricane protection levee, building the West Bank levee from Des Allemands to Luling, and covering the parish’s share of the costs of the federal West Bank and West Shore levees.
Elsewhere on the ballot, nearly 70 percent of voters — 3,644 — supported renewing a 2.2-mill property tax that pays for maintaining and operating the parish’s sewer facilities. The tax will generate $2.6 million annually for parish waste facilities.
“With tonight’s passage of property tax millages to support our infrastructure, residents can look forward to many years of exciting progress resulting in an even better quality of life,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said late Saturday. “Construction projects and maintenance work will continue across the parish as we set out to reach our goal of complete hurricane protection within the next 10 to 15 years. Not only will this provide flood protection for residents; it will also provide protection from astronomical flood insurance rates.”
And a new, .7-mill tax that’s set to raise $843,000 annually for the Arc of St. Charles may help prevent deep service cuts for the organization, which provides services for citizens with developmental or physical disabilities. Almost 68 percent of voters — 3,539 — backed that measure.
Arc officials say new federal mandates — including a requirement to hire a registered nurse — have hampered the organization’s already-strapped $3 million budget, which had been hard-hit by declining state and federal funding.
And in Luling, a new $35 million arts center may soon be built on Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway near R.K. Smith Middle School in Luling.
About 59 percent of voters — 3,102 residents — backed the $42 million bond issue for the schools, which in addition to the new arts center will pay also pay for other improvements, including about $4 million in renovations at Lakewood Elementary School in Luling and Albert Cammon Middle School in St. Rose; about $1.6 million to upgrade lighting at elementary schools throughout the parish; and $850,000 to make safety improvements at parish schools.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.