Voters go to the polls Saturday in four area parishes, with the runoff contest for St. Tammany Parish coroner attracting the most interest among the various races and ballot propositions.
There are several other items on the ballot in parts of St. Tammany, and voters in Jefferson, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes also have issues to decide.
Turnout is expected to be low in all four parishes.
Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
The only parishwide race in St. Tammany is the runoff between Charles Preston, a retired Slidell emergency care physician, and Leanne Truehart, a Mandeville psychiatrist, to replace Coroner Peter Galvan, who resigned last year when he pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiring to steal public funds.
Truehart and Preston were the top vote-getters in a field of four in the April 5 primary, which also included Slidell municipal elections.
Most of the Slidell races were decided last month, with the exception of the City Council District E seat, which pits the incumbent, former Mayor Sam Caruso, against Pete O’Connell, a retired small-business owner.
Elsewhere in St. Tammany, two recreation districts have tax initiatives on the ballot.
District 10, which serves the area in and around Covington, has gone to voters with a tax proposition three times in the past 20 years without success. This time around, the proposed tax is lower, 4 mills, and the boundaries of the district have been changed. The tax would allow the district to take over operation of the city of Covington’s recreation facilities.
Two measures are on the ballot in District 10, and both must be passed for either to take effect: a 2.5-mill tax to provide $650,000 annually for operations and a 1.5-mill tax to allow the issuance of $5 million in bonds to pay for improvements, including a new gymnasium.
St. Tammany Recreation District No. 2, which serves the Bush and Sun areas, also is trying to get support from voters who have proved recalcitrant in past elections. A previous tax to support operations and maintenance of recreation facilities lapsed, and voters defeated several attempts to revive it. This initiative, a 3.5-mill tax, won’t increase the overall tax burden for the district. Supporters say failure of the tax will likely mean closure of a gym in dire need of repairs.
Also in St. Tammany, fire districts 5, 6 and 13 are asking voters to renew about 10 mills each for operations and maintenance. The renewals are for 10 years. Fire District 5 is in the northwestern corner of the parish; Fire District 6 covers an area north of Covington to the parish line, and Fire District 13 is near Goodbee.
In Jefferson Parish, voters will decide on five millage renewals, though only one involves the entire parish and two affect only Grand Isle. In addition, Harahan voters will decide a runoff race for police chief between former Chief Peter Dale and former New Orleans police Officer Tim Walker.
Jefferson voters are being asked to renew for 10 years property taxes that fund criminal justice, economic development, road lighting, parks and cultural programs and one ambulance service district in the parish. Combined, the taxes put up to $17.5 million a year into parish coffers.
Only two of the taxes will be voted on parishwide. The others are levied and fund services in specific areas — either the parish’s unincorporated areas and the town of Jean Lafitte or else in Grand Isle.
The Special Services District, which covers the entire parish, is the most wide-ranging of the taxes on the ballot. Capped at 2.5 mills, it is split among four separate funds. The largest share, 40 percent, goes to criminal justice programs. Twenty percent goes to parks and cultural programs, 20 percent to economic development programs and 20 percent to programs for senior citizens.
A second parishwide tax, capped at 1 mill, is split evenly between the criminal justice system and a portion for parks and cultural facilities.
The third tax, up to 3 mills, covers only the unincorporated areas of Jefferson Parish and the town of Jean Lafitte, and pays for the operation and maintenance of 40,000 streetlights.
In Grand Isle, a separate tax of up to 10 mills provides money for a road lighting program there. Grand Isle voters also will decide whether to renew a tax of up to 5 mills to run the ambulance service there.
In St. Charles Parish, there is a runoff race on the ballot between Julia Fisher-Perrier and Jarvis Lewis for an at-large seat on the Parish Council, and voters also will decide whether to renew an annual $2.9 million property tax that largely supports emergency services at the publicly owned St. Charles Parish Hospital. The vote would extend an existing 2.48-mill tax for 10 years.
The $2.9 million represents about 7 percent of the hospital’s expenditures. The money would be used, in part, to add a third ambulance during peak hours, expand the 59-bed hospital’s emergency room and staff a new cardiology unit.
St. John the Baptist Parish voters will decide on a bond issue that would raise as much as $10.4 million to help rebuild the flood-damaged Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School in LaPlace. Propositions to renew a 4.33-mill property tax for schools maintenance and to rededicate the proceeds of an existing sales tax for the school district also are on the ballot. None of the three items would result in a tax increase, school officials said. The bond issue would be paid for from an existing 10-mill property tax.