A proposal to increase property taxes to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of their levees and drainage system in St. Bernard Parish was soundly rejected Saturday by the relatively small number of voters that showed up at the polls.

The measure failed with 58.4 percent of voters casting ballots against the increase. The 3,057 voters who cast ballots amount to about 12 percent of the voters in the parish.

The requested 7.5-mill increase would go toward ensuring the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District, a part of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East, has the money it needs to maintain 60 miles of levees and floodwalls in St. Bernard Parish and operate and maintain its drainage system.

Those costs have increased with the additional responsibilities it now shoulders for maintaining the $14.5 billion flood protection system built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the levee failures during Hurricane Katrina.

The millage would bring in $6 million a year and bring the total millage for the levee district to 18.6 mills.

Voters in St. Bernard rejected a previous attempt to pass the millage in December, with 61 percent voting ‘no.’ That previous attempt had gone down at the same time voters rejected a slate of other millage increases, suggesting little appetite for higher taxes in the parish.