Council on Aging seeks dedicated funding

The East Feliciana Parish Council on Aging director asked the Police Jury on Tuesday to either find a permanent funding source in the jury budget or call an election on a 1-mill tax to fund the agency.

Director Brenda Gardner said the agency serves 49 elderly residents through its meal delivery program and has 49 more on a waiting list.

The council serves East Feliciana’s 3,968 residents 60 and older with revenues estimated this year at $301,500 but with $342,000 budgeted in expenses.

Gardner said her nine employees are dedicated to serving senior citizens, but wages are so low that only two can afford health insurance.

“I need some dedicated funding I can use year after year,” Gardner said.

Jurors took no action on her request, but some questioned the effect of a 1-mill property tax increase on the parish’s status of having the state’s lowest total property tax.

East Feliciana picks up some extra property tax revenue because state law allows railroads and other public transportation firms to establish their domiciles in the parish with the lowest millage.

Gardner said she understands that a barge operator and a tour boat may join the railroads calling East Feliciana “home.”

“I believe tax revenues will go up; I’m just asking for a share of it,” she said.

Gardner said East Feliciana’s property tax millage is 2 mills lower than Pointe Coupee Parish’s total, but a half-mill tax is set to go off the rolls in Pointe Coupee this year.

“We’d have a cushion of 1.5 mills,” she said.

Jury financial adviser Phil Graham said the jury cannot dedicate its funds to the Council on Aging for more than a year at a time.

He also cautioned about raising taxes to stay just under Pointe Coupee.

“Some of those (Pointe Coupee) taxes are to pay off debt. The millages could drop if they pay off their debt,” he said.

“If everybody goes after that millage, you’re going to kill the golden goose,” Graham said.