With all 98 precincts reporting, a 5.5-mill property tax increase for flood protection for the West Bank of Jefferson Parish was rejected by voters Saturday, with 58 percent voting against the measure.
The 30-year tax drew 13,607 votes in favor compared with 19,128 votes against it, according to Secretary of State’s Office figures.
Turnout was very low at 30 percent.
The new tax would have provided roughly $5.5 million a year on top of the 5.03-mill tax that now brings in $5.1 million a year for the West Jefferson Levee District, which is under the control of the South Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West.
The SLFPA-W said it needed the extra funding to maintain, repair and operate the West Bank’s flood protection system, which has gotten $4.1 billion in federally funded upgrades since Hurricane Katrina.
The new 5.5-mill tax would have cost the owner of a $175,000 home $55 more per year.
The authority spent months promoting the tax with little public opposition, but just two weeks before the election, some critics, led by state Rep. Pat Connick, began to question the authority’s administrative spending practices and whether enough has been done to get the federal government to help foot the bill for the system.
The authority responded that the federally funded upgrades that were just completed actually were authorized decades ago and that the parish could not risk waiting for federal dollars that might not ever come.
In addition to questions from Connick and the Jefferson Voters Federation, at-large Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts came out in opposition to the tax.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.