Some Louisiana voters reject taxes in Saturday elections

Voters in Louisiana mostly approved extending dozens of taxes to pay for school and local government operations on Saturday, but voters in low-turnout elections in New Orleans, Alexandria and some other jurisdictions rejected levies.

Voters in all or parts of 21 parishes ratified taxes. But Orleans Parish voters overwhelmingly shot down a property tax increase to underwrite jail operations, with 91% of voters rejecting the plan, according to unofficial results.

It was a stinging defeat for Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson, who took office a year ago promising to improve jail operations.

“Tonight did not go as we had hoped, but it in no way diminishes the financial needs of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office,” Hutson said in a statement, noting that the department still needs to raise pay for deputies and make the jail safer to end court oversight.

Elsewhere in the state, Alexandria voters refused to renew a property tax for another 20 years. It was projected to collect $5 million a year for road, infrastructure and downtown projects. The city had warned such a vote would lead to poorer service.

St. Tammany Parish voters refused to renew a property tax to fund the coroner’s office. Parish Coroner Charles Preston said that the $7.8 million yearly tax was needed to provide death investigations, sexual assault examinations and DNA tests. Some parish officials argued the tax was unneeded because the coroner’s building is almost paid off and the agency has $10 million in the bank, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported.

Voters in Concordia Parish also rejected a property tax for the coroner’s office, as well as a property tax to build and improve fire stations. They agreed to renew a smaller tax for parish government.

Natchitoches Parish voters spurned a 10-year-long property tax extension to fund parish libraries, roads and bridges, but approved a $3 million-a-year property tax for public school construction and a $2 million-a-year tax for hospitals and ambulances.

A $65 million bond for Ruston schools was rejected in Lincoln Parish, while voters living in the parish’s Simsboro school zone narrowly approved a bond issue.

Voters in Morehouse Parish vetoed a $6 million bond issue for local schools to be paid for by a property tax increase, while those in St. Helena Parish refused both a sales tax and a property tax for schools.

Voters in Winn Parish rejected a property tax increase for schools, a levy that was projected to raise more than $750,000 a year. Voters narrowly approved continuing an existing, smaller property tax for schools.

Voters in Sabine Parish unhappy about the condition of local roads recalled Police Juror Jeff Gilligan Davidson by an overwhelming margin.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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