St. Bernard Parish residents on Saturday voted overwhelming against digging deeper into their pockets to pay for a one-year, 30-mill tax proposal to expand medical services at their publicly-owned hospital in Chalmette.
The proposal would have generated an estimated $9 million, much of which, hospital officials said, was to be spent on hiring health care specialists and implementing a new electronic medical records system. The existing records system has been so plagued with problems that the hospital was forced to hire an outside company to bill patients.
For a resident who owns a home valued at $200,000, with a homestead exemption, the bill for the new tax would have come to $375.
Saturday’s vote came a little more than three years after parish voters approved a 10-year, 8-mill property tax to cover the St. Bernard Parish Hospital’s startup costs.
Opponents of the measure, including Parish President David Peralta, contended that hospital executives have mismanaged the money they’ve received so far, and voters shouldn’t reward them by coughing up more cash.
Wayne Landry, a former Parish Council member who is interim-CEO of the hospital, said last month that the money from the 30-mill tax would be used to take the facility “to the next level, not just in terms of money but in terms of the services that we provide to the public.”
The 113,000-square-foot hospital opened in late 2012.