LIVINGSTON – Voters in two gravity districts will be able to decide this November if they want to fund their respective entities to help improve drainage.
The Livingston Parish Council at its May 11 meeting got the ball rolling on the tax proposal when they adopted a resolution to bring the proposition before voters in a Nov. 18 election
The move would set the stage for parishwide drainage for the first time in the history of Livingston Parish. Between 75 and 80 percent of the parish operates without gravity drainage districts.
"What we will have is individual districts and those dollars will stay in those respective districts," said Councilman Tab Lobell, who represents the Springfield area. "But for the first time, this means we could potentially have drainage districts across the parish."
The tax revenue would provide dedicated funding for equipment to clean ditches, along with money to ante up for matching funds required on federal grants. Revenue from the millage would exclusively by the individual district, and not for projects in other parts of the parish.
"We've talked so many times about how it would be great to have this," said Councilman Shane Mack, who represents the Albany area. "This will capture the entire parish once the taxes are passed.
"The problems along the (unfunded) areas stem from being able to clean ditches and canals, and unclogging banks along the waterways," he said. "The problem, however, is a lack of resources."
The resolution District 7 calls for an eight-mill tax for the area from Walker South, into the Port Vincent, French Settlement, Maurepas and Springfield.
The millage would generate approximately $800,000 per year, according to Larry O'Neil, chairman of District 7.
The district has operated as a non-funded entity since its inception just over a year ago.
The plan for District 6 would ask voters to approve two propositions – a 5-mill property tax and a half-cent sales tax. The area covers the portion of Walker north of Interstate 12, eastward to the Tangipahoa Parish line.
"It's basically one district for the north of Interstate 12 and another for the south side," Mack said. "Many great things can be achieved for this parish once this is established.”
The proposal would not include the City of Walker, which operates its own drainage program. It would also exclude the Livingston Parish Industrial Park, where Waste Management and Martin Brower.
If approved, the millage would funnel around $300,000 per year. The sales tax would generate approximately $450,000.
The millage on the heels of the March and August floods in 2016. Mack hopes constituents will remember the severity when the items come up for the vote.
"I thought we'd never see another flood like we saw in March, but five months later, we had it all over again – and much worse," he said. "I'm not sure how we could've minimized the impact, but a Master Plan would've helped.
District 6 has operated for several years, but as a non-funded entity. Voters nixed a millage proposal for the district several years ago. Districts 6 and 7 are the two of Livingston Parish's five drainage districts which do not have a source of funding.
The plan has also drawn strong support from other areas of the parish.
"I urge everyone on the east side to get behind this millage," said Councilman Garry "Frog" Talbert, who represents the Watson area.