In the upcoming election on April 29th, 2017, voters in Caddo Parish will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to renew existing millages that support specific services provided by the parish. These millages, which are a means of assessing property taxes, play a vital role in maintaining and improving public facilities, recreation, public health, juvenile court and detention, courthouse and parish buildings, and sales tax rededication. In this article, we will delve into the key points of each millage and its significance for Caddo Parish residents and business owners.
Before we explore the specific millages on the ballot, let’s first understand what millages are. A millage is a unit of property tax, with one mil equal to one tenth of a cent. It is important to note that the millages being discussed in this presentation are not new taxes; they are a continuation of the existing millages.
Allocation of Property Taxes
Caddo Parish property taxes are distributed among various entities. The Caddo Parish Commission receives approximately twenty-two percent of property taxes, while the remaining taxes are divided between the Caddo Parish School Board, the sheriff’s office, and the library system. It is worth mentioning that the Caddo Parish Commission has consistently decreased its property tax millages over the years, as reflected in the overall changes in the parish’s total millage.
Public Facilities and Recreation Millage
The public facilities and recreation millage, which is set at 0.83 property millage, funds ninety-eight percent of operations aimed at maintaining and operating parks, recreational facilities, public road systems, garbage disposal, industrial waste programs, surface water drains, and drainage facilities. The majority of the proceeds from this millage are utilized for recreational services, including park sites, community events, basketball tournaments, hiking and nature trails, and recreational programs. This millage also covers the maintenance of boat launches, historical bridges and monuments, as well as landscaping and grass maintenance. With a total of sixteen employees and many local volunteers, the public facilities and recreation millage plays a crucial role in enhancing the quality of life for Caddo Parish residents.
Public Health Millage
The public health millage, valued at 0.87 property millage, funds fifty percent of the operations needed to maintain and operate public health units, mosquito and rodent control units, and animal control facilities. Operations under this millage include citizen protection from stray animals, animal rescue and pet adoption, spay and neuter surgeries, educational programs for pet safety, mosquito spraying, mosquito monitoring, and neighborhood inspections for mosquito breeding sites. With 38 employees and numerous volunteers, the public health millage ensures the well-being of both humans and animals in Caddo Parish.
Juvenile Court and Juvenile Detention Millage
The juvenile court and juvenile detention millage, valued at 1.97 property millage, funds fifty percent of the operations required to maintain, equip, and operate the juvenile court and detention facilities. This millage supports probation supervision and compliance for over 1,000 juveniles annually, drug court and family preservation courts, a mental health assessment center for juveniles, restorative justice programs, and a misdemeanor and truancy referral center. Operations also include the housing, security, nutrition, and education of over 800 juveniles who come through the parish’s juvenile detention facility each year. The juvenile millage contributes to the functioning of a robust juvenile justice system that prioritizes public safety.
Courthouse and Parish Buildings Millage
The courthouse and parish buildings millage, set at 2.72 property millage, funds 99% of the operations necessary to maintain, equip, and operate the Caddo Parish courthouse and ancillary offices. This millage plays a crucial role in providing business locations for various important entities, such as the Caddo Parish Sheriff, District Attorney, Clerk of Courts, Tax Assessor, Coroner, and the Registrar of Voters. Moreover, it covers all renovations and construction of parish buildings, building maintenance, security for all buildings in collaboration with the sheriff’s office, and the establishment of voting locations. The courthouse and parish buildings millage ensures that parish citizens have safe and secure buildings to conduct routine business.
Sales Tax Rededication
The sales tax rededication, valued at 1.5 sales tax, authorizes the Commission to rededicate the proceeds from the current one percent Road sales tax and the current 0.5 percent solid waste tax. This rededication allows the Commission to allocate the funds where they are most needed, such as roads, bridges, drainage, solid waste, and water and sewer infrastructure. Importantly, this rededication does not represent a tax increase; it simply grants more flexibility in utilizing the existing funds.
The Reason for Renewing Now
The decision to renew these millages is informed by good planning practices. It is best to call an election no later than one year before a millage expires. The Commission has chosen to call one renewal election for all millages that would expire within four years of the proposed election date. By doing so, Caddo Parish taxpayers are estimated to save $400,000 in costs associated with multiple elections. Renewing these millages and the sales tax rededication enables the parish to continue providing essential public services and make improvements to enhance the quality of life for its residents.
Caddo Parish residents and business owners have the opportunity to shape the future of their community by voting in the upcoming election on April 29th, 2017. By renewing the millages that support public facilities, recreation, public health, juvenile court and detention, courthouse and parish buildings, and allowing for the sales tax rededication, Caddo Parish can continue providing vital services that enhance the overall quality of life. Early voting will occur from April 15th to the 22nd. For more information on the upcoming election, please visit the official website of the Caddo Parish Commission. Let your voice be heard and help shape the future of your community.