Livingston voters to decide mosquito tax in October

The Livingston Parish Council voted 6-2 Thursday night to put a proposed property tax for mosquito abatement before voters in October.

The tax would replace a $30-a-year fee on households and businesses with electricity service. Collection of that fee has been difficult, said Jeanine Tessimer, director of the parish’s mosquito abatement program.

All of the parishes surrounding Livingston except for St. Helena have mosquito control programs, Tessimer said, adding that mosquitoes carry West Nile virus and other diseases.

The 3-mill tax will go before voters on Oct. 19 and would remain in place for 10 years if approved.

“Let the people decide,” Councilman Delos Blackwell said.

Council Chairman Marshall Harris said a number of his constituents called him to say they did not want the program added to their property taxes, but he voted to put the matter on the ballot anyway.

He and Blackwell were joined by Cindy Wale, Sonya Collins, Ricky Goff and Ronnie Sharp in voting to put the proposal on the ballot. Joan Landry and Chance Parent voted “no.”

Other business coming before the council included:

ENGINEERING FEES: The council approved a measure to hire attorney Richard Zimmerman at $300 an hour to handle litigation against Alvin Fairburn & Associates LLC over engineering fees. The proposal also authorized Harris to sign the agreement.

Council attorney Chris Moody told members that it is normal for the parish president to sign such contracts and said he thinks the council might be overstepping its bounds in giving that responsibility to the council chairman.

Landry, who voted no along with Collins, questioned the cost, which was above what Moody charged the council when he was handling the
case.

RIVERSIDE LANDING: The council unanimously approved a resolution of intent to create a tax incentive financing district for Riverside Landing Development just south of Denham Springs.

The council’s financial adviser, Jim Ryan, said the resolution carries no weight except to help developers find investors for the project.

Councilman Ricky Goff said he will agree to setting up the district and to letting the developers create an additional sales tax in the district, but said he won’t back their request that the parish give up 40 percent of its road tax collected in the district.

The developers have proposed that 40 percent of the parish road tax and a District 5 Drainage Board tax from that area be used for infrastructure on the project.