Protecting People, Property and Our Way of Life

Lafourche Council may support levee sales tax

 

By: Jacob Batte, DailyComet.com

December 11, 2013

http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20131211/ARTICLES/131219899/0/search

 

If the North Lafourche Levee and Conservation District wants a new sales tax for increased flood protection, Lafourche Parish Council members said they support the effort.
There are plans to try to reintroduce a tax after voters rejected a proposed 1-cent sales tax by a 54-46 percent margin last year, levee district Executive Director Dwayne Bourgeois told the council Tuesday. There’s no specific proposal or timeline.

The district’s Comprehensive Flood Protection Plan’s levee and drainage projects have an estimated price tag of $250 million, but the levee district’s annual revenue is $3 million, which is raised from property taxes. Last year’s sales tax measure would have raised more than $8 million annually.

“I don’t like taxes either. It amazes me that we have to do this. But it’s a decision that has to be made by the parish people to decide how fast we want to move on these projects,” Bourgeois said.

Councilman Jerry Lafont said he thinks residents would rather have a sales tax for flood protection improvements rather than pay for more costly flood insurance because of higher risk.

The levee district was formed in 1992 to provide drainage and flood protection for the northern portion of Lafourche Parish, including the entire area north of the Intracoastal Canal. The district includes more than 250 miles of levees and drainage canals and more than 40 pump stations.

Bourgeois updated the council Tuesday on the status of about 45 projects, including 20 under construction and 25 in engineering, design and permitting phases. The projects included drainage improvements and studies in Thibodaux, the Lockport-to-Larose levee improvements and work done at and around the Company Canal pump station.

The levee district partners with Lafourche Parish on several projects, including the Lafourche Parish Drainage Study and the Lockport to Larose Hydrology Study.

The presentation provided an overview of coastal land loss issues and the impact land loss has on the north Lafourche drainage system.

“As Louisiana loses its coastline and the Gulf of Mexico is moving further inland, it makes it increasingly more difficult to drain the water out of north Lafourche and provide flood protection for our communities. Coastal land loss affects north Lafourche and we continue to work on projects to protect our parish and our way of life,” Bourgeois said.

Despite having a strained relationship with the district earlier this year, council members expressed their support for the district’s work.

“I’ve been keeping track with a lot of the work y’all have been doing and it’s good that the public can now see. Y’all have a lot of good projects going on and I’ve seen some of the benefits from it,” Councilmen Mike Delatte said.

Bourgeois, who has been making presentations to various organizations throughout the parish, will address the Thibodaux Rotary Club on Dec. 17 and the Lafourche Chamber of Commerce in January.

Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.