Voters across the New Orleans metro area will decide Saturday whether to cough up more tax money for services like flood protection, water, prisons, parks and libraries. Turnout is expected to be low.
Officials in almost every local parish are asking for extra dollars to shore up infrastructure or improve operations.
The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
In New Orleans, Sheriff Marlin Gusman is again asking voters to approve a ballot measure that would eventually give him about $8 million a year to help implement court-ordered improvements at Orleans Parish Prison.
The 2.8-mill property tax involved already exists, but the revenue is dedicated to paying off bonds for construction projects. Voters would need to approve using the money for operations and to keep the full tax in effect after the bonds are paid off.
The same ballot measure failed last year, but Mayor Mitch Landrieu warned this week that City Hall will face serious budget cuts if voters say no again.
Voters in Orleans Parish also are being asked to approve 2.5 mills to help fund the New Orleans Public Library system, which will have to close branches and cut back hours drastically if it doesn’t get help.
The 25-year tax would generate $8.3 million per year.
Voters in St. Bernard Parish will vote for a second time on a 30-year, 7.5-mill tax for the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District. The new tax, which would generate about $2.6 million per year, would fund the operation and maintenance of the St. Bernard portion of the area’s flood protection system. Voters rejected the tax last year.
In Jefferson Parish, residents of Westwego will decide on three new 10-year property tax propositions totaling 10 mills.
The first proposal, for 6 mills, would generate $360,000 a year for equipment purchases and maintenance at the Fire Department. The second and third propositions call for 2 mills each to support the water and sewer departments. They would generate an estimated $120,000 each.
In St. Tammany Parish, voters in Recreation District No. 16 are being asked to approve a $14 million bond issue and a 4.15-mill tax. The district covers Wards 8 and 9 in eastern St. Tammany, excluding Slidell and the Oak Harbor/Eden Isles area. The 20-year bond issue would go toward building a large park and recreation center. An accompanying 10-year millage would generate about $836,000 per year to operate and maintain the park.
Also on the St. Tammany ballot are 3.98 mills for equipment, maintenance and operations in Recreation District No. 7 (generating $140,000 per year for 10 years); 5 mills for Fire Protection District No. 12 ($1.2 million per year for 20 years); and 3 mills for the Northshore Harbor Center District ($1.6 million per year for 10 years).
The St. Charles Parish ballot includes four parishwide measures: a new 4-mill tax that would generate $4.8 million a year for 30 years to support flood protection; a 30-year, 2.2-mill renewal generating $2.6 million per year for wastewater treatment systems; a 10-year, 0.7-mill tax that would generate $843,000 per year for a nonprofit called the Arc of St. Charles, which provides services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and a $42 million bond issue for improvements to parish schools.
The bonds would be paid off with 5.86 mills in property taxes already being collected.
Voters in St. John the Baptist Parish will decide on a 10-year, 1-mill renewal that would generate about $450,000 per year for construction and maintenance of parish buildings, including the courthouse and the jail.
There is nothing on the ballot in Plaquemines Parish.
Voters are required to bring identification to their local polling stations, a list of which can be found at voterportal.sos.la.gov.
Early voting results won’t be available until after polls close Saturday.
Officials said 4,159 people voted early in Orleans Parish, just 1.7 percent of registered voters.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.