Westwego Mayor John Shaddinger’s bid to better fund the city’s sewer and water departments failed at the polls by a slim margin Saturday, though voters approved 6 mills in new property taxes to fund maintenance, operation and new equipment for the fire department.
Voters narrowly rejected a 2-mill proposition that would have brought in $120,000 a year to the sewer department, with 52 percent voting against it. The 2-mill tax that would have brought in the same amount for the water department failed by an even narrower margin, with 469 people voting against it and 467 voting for it.
The split vote on the 10-year taxes Saturday suggests voters still want the city to use existing revenue to fund some of its essential services. It will also force the city to carve about $240,000 out of the current budget, which was passed in January assuming the taxes would pass.
The fire protection millage, which passed 66 percent to 34 percent, will bring in $360,000 per year, with half dedicated to new equipment. The city has not had money in the budget for new trucks and gear, and the new millage will change that going forward. The other $180,000 will reduce the amount the city has to use from the general fund to $510,000.
But Shaddinger’s latest effort to make water and sewer services less of a drain on the general fund was not so fortunate.
The water service will need $360,000 from the general fund, while the sewer service will need $205,000 in the current year.
Shaddinger has made it a point in recent years to try to reduce those amounts, and it’s likely voters remember the 25 percent fee hike, the second half of which took effect this year.
Turnout was less than 10 percent. The city has 11,120 registered voters, and 952 voted on the fire millage, while 943 and 946 people voted on the sewer and water propositions, respectively.
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