West Feliciana voters approve tax for new sewage treatment plant, say no to charter changes

St. Francisville voters gave overwhelming support Saturday to a half-cent sales tax increase for 15 years to fund construction of a new sewage treatment plant.

St. Francisville voters gave overwhelming support Saturday to a half-cent sales tax increase for 15 years to fund construction of a new sewage treatment plant.

In other election results, West Feliciana Parish voters turned down the Parish Council’s proposed changes to the home-rule charter that would have made it easier to fill terms on parish boards and commissions, but they supported renewing a 6-mill property tax for the parish fire protection district.

In East Feliciana Parish, voters in Police Jury District 2, an area between Clinton and Jackson, elected Ronald Johnson to finish the term begun by the late Edward Brooks Sr.

St. Francisville Mayor Billy D’Aquilla had predicted that the town’s voters would support the tax increase because they see the need to relocate the town’s sewage treatment plant from an area near the Mississippi River and Bayou Sara that often floods.

“I pushed it hard,” D’Aquilla said Sunday, noting that he had produced a flier that promoted the tax and explained the problems the town faces with its sewage treatment.

With turnout Saturday at almost 22%, 181 voters approved the tax, while 63 opposed it.

D’Aquilla is turning over the mayor’s job to Robert “Bobee” Leake on Jan. 1.

“We can go ahead with full confidence,” D’Aquilla said of the election results.

The next steps in bringing the project to completion are selling bonds that will be backed by the tax and buying a site for a new treatment plant on higher ground.

The home-rule charter changes failed by a vote of 950 to 689, according to complete but unofficial returns.

The changes would have allowed commission and board members to serve two four-year terms and allow one member of the Planning and Zoning Commission to live in the town of St. Francisville, where parish regulations do not apply. It also included a provision to allow a person to serve on more than one board or commission.

Since voters approved the home-rule charter, the council has had difficulty in filling some vacancies on some boards and commissions, and the changes were designed to make it easier for residents to become eligible for appointments.

West Feliciana Fire Protection District 1’s 6-mill tax renewal passed by a vote of 825-579.

In East Feliciana, Johnson defeated Catherine Davis, 306-129. He will have three full years left to serve on the Police Jury term that Brooks began last January before succumbing to COVID-19 in April.

Brooks’ wife, Queenola, has been serving as an interim juror.

Johnson said a cousin, Robert Johnson, served a term as the area’s juror from 2004-08. He said he has attended many parish Police Jury and School Board meeting over the years, often accompanying his mother, Leola Johnson, a local civic leader.

Feliciana voters followed the trend set by those in other parishes, soundly voting against a proposed constitutional amendment and supporting Luke J. Letlow over Lance Harris in the runoff for the 5th Congressional District seat.

In West Feliciana, 81% of the voters participating Saturday voted against a constitutional amendment that would have allowed out-of-state residents to serve on boards that supervise post-secondary education in the state. The vote was 1,341-313.

East Feliciana’s tally on the proposed amendment was 1,622-311, or a margin of 84%, against the measure.

The amendment failed statewide by a margin of 76% to 24%.

Letlow got 959 votes to 525 for Harris in West Feliciana and 597 to 489 in East Feliciana. He will succeed U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham when the new congressional session begins in January. He has served as Abraham’s top aide.