Five property tax renewals and a partial rededication of a sixth will be on the ballot Oct. 9 in Lafayette Parish.

The Lafayette Parish Council and Lafayette City Council have voted unanimously to place tax renewals on the ballot. Some expire in 2022, some in 2023, giving the councils time to return to voters for a second attempt at approval if they're rejected in October.

The Oct. 9 ballot in Lafayette Parish will contain the following:

  • Rededication of a 2.21-mill public health property tax, with .23 mills to be diverted to parish fire protection and 1.98 mills remaining in the public health fund to pay for animal and mosquito control, the public health unit and, for the first time, the coroner's office.
  • Renewal of a 1.84-mill property tax to Lafayette Parish public libraries.
  • Renewal of a 1.71-mill property tax that generates about $7.76 million a year for Lafayette Regional Airport.
  • Renewal of a 3.58-mill property tax that generates about $7.8 million a year for drainage. It includes a 0.24-mill increase due to a drop in property tax revenue through reappraisals.

The Oct. 9 ballot in the city of Lafayette will include the renewal of:

  • A 3-mill property tax that generates about $4.6 million a year for police salaries and benefits.
  • A 2-mill property tax that generates about $3 million a year for fire department salaries and benefits.

Lafayette Parish Public Library Board of Control members and Parish Councilmen insist it is vital that voters renew the library tax. The loss of money generated by that tax, around $4 million a year, will mean more than just cuts, Parish Councilman Josh Carlson said Tuesday.

“We're talking about closing down libraries," he said.

$4 million Carencro library expansion on hold because of money woes

The library board has put a hold on the expansion of two libraries because the money might be needed to operate libraries if the renewal fails.

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At one time, the library system had accrued about $26 million, in large part to build, equip and operate new libraries in Carencro, the Youngsville area, Scott and the South Regional branch on Johnston Street as well as renovating the main library downtown.

But, after an anti-tax campaign in the community, voters in 2018 rejected one of three property taxes that funded the library system, costing the system about $3.5 million a year. Voters later approved a plan by former Mayor-President Joel Robideaux to use $8 million from the library fund to pay for drainage. The failure of the Parish Council to roll millages forward as allowed by law further cost the library system as much as $1 million a year.

While the Parish Council did not discuss the proposed rededication of the public health tax, voters should be aware of two changes in that proposal.

Currently, property owners across the parish pay 2.21 mills to the public health fund that pays costs of the animal control center, mosquito control and the public health unit. The tax generates about $4.8 million a year. If the measure is approved in October, expenses of the coroner's office also could be paid from that fund.

Divvying dollars: Will public health tax collections boost coroner's office next?

The proposal isn't just a renewal. It's a rededication. Voters are being asked to permanently divert .23 mills of the 2.21-mill public health tax to parish fire protection, leaving the public health fund with 1.98 mills to pay for animal control, mosquito control, the health unit and coroner's office, which the parish is mandated to pay for by the state.

Parish Councilman Kevin Naquin said the intent is not to drain the public health fund, but it operates with a surplus that could be used for fire protection without raising taxes. Voters in unincorporated areas of the parish rejected a proposal to tax themselves in 2018 for fire protection and their insurance premiums went up. In November, voters agreed to redirect part of a culture, recreation and tourism tax to parish fire protection.

The public health tax previously was dipped into because, like the library system, it had accrued a savings.

Divvying dollars: Will public health tax collections boost coroner's office next?

In 2017, voters agreed to use $9 million from the public health tax savings to improve drainage and redirected 1.10 mills annually to drainage; 0.25 mills to the culture, recreation and tourism effort; and left 2.21 mills for public health.

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