We often hear the third try is the charm, but it doesn’t guarantee an easy ride.
The next two months and one day will prove both busy and challenging for Livingston Parish Council members Garry “Frog” Talbert and Maurice “Scooter” Keen.
The council members for Districts 2 and 3 must somehow convince residents that the plan for a mosquito abatement district for their area – excluding the portion of Keen’s district in the City of Denham Springs, where the municipality sprays for mosquitoes.
Keep in mind this is not the same election or the same proposal that voters rejected in 2013 and 2014. Those were parish-wide, and this vote involves one particular district, even though opponents and Parish Council members lump all three funding attempts together.
Safety and the fee itself comprise the two biggest concerns among homeowners who either remain uncertain or outright oppose it.
Opponents of the measure believe the proposal is irrelevant because voters parish-wide rejected two previous attempts to renew funding propositions for the Livingston Parish Mosquito Abatement Department, which ultimately disbanded in 2015.
Some opponents are rightfully concerned about what repellants the service will use. Although the decision ultimately depends on what the department director thinks will work best, they want an idea of what it could mean for their areas.
Keen and Talbert both say they have received a large volume of requests from constituents who want the service back, even if it’s only for their district. More than a year later and after some often heated discussions, the proposal has made it back to the polls.
It remains a hot issue on social media, one that has brought a litany of comments both pro and con.
The challenge to pass the fee is a bold step, largely because of the prevailing anti-tax mentality in Livingston and other parishes across the state. But both councilmen say they have the support for the measure to pass and bring the service back to their areas.
The fee of $3 is a minimal fee, no matter how one looks at it. A bottle of water, in many stores, bears a higher price. Certainly, the cost of mosquito repellent – even the cheapest brand – costs more than $3.
The final tally will show how far Keen and Talbert can go in the power to convince.
Those who oppose it say the amount does not matter because they believe they pay enough already.
Some have even said they will not pay the fee if it passes. Does that mean they won’t pay the water bill?
Who knows? Maybe the water well business will spike if it passes. Imagine that: Pay $2,500 for a well to save $3 per month. Stranger things have happened.
All kidding aside, the greatest area of uncertainty, in that case, may come down to how many residents show up at the polls for a one-item ballot on May 4.
Keen said the new satellite polls for early voting at the Denham Springs/Walker branch of the Livingston Parish Library could significantly boost turnout for the early voting session, but it will still take a concentrated push to remind voters to practice their constitutional privilege, whether they favor or oppose the proposition.
Talbert and Keen say they will walk door to door to campaign for the fee and will put a booth in place at Springfest in late April to promote and educate residents about the benefits of the program.
The work could pay off, but it’s going to take every bit of effort – and then some – to ensure it passes.
The final tally will show how far Keen and Talbert can go in the power to convince. Success of the proposal could also send a message to others who hope to make a push on other services, whether it’s drainage or recreation or anything else that fizzled at the polls.
The third attempt could prove to be the charm or could mark the last time it goes to the polls, and perhaps deter tax proposals for other services down the line. Time will tell.