While it’s an off-year election, it’s still a busy election day in many parts of the Baton Rouge area, with mostly smaller offices on ballots today.
The most high-profile contest in Louisiana is probably the special election for a new member of Congress. The sprawling 5th District covers a lot of north Louisiana but runs down the Mississippi River to the parishes north of Baton Rouge, then across to Washington Parish on the north shore.
Voters will name a replacement for U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, a Republican, who resigned to accept a job in state government. A slew of candidates, including state lawmakers and a former congressman, will run in the primary, with a runoff likely.
Local ballots across the state will decide smaller offices or requests for new taxes or tax renewals.
Several particularly significant tax renewals in the area are on the ballot, and we urge voters to support them.
In East Baton Rouge Parish, the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Medical Services have tax renewals on the ballot parishwide.
The property tax that supports operations of the Sheriff’s Office up for renewal is a 6.9-mill property tax that generates a bit less than $25 million a year.
That funding is vital for the operations of the office, paying for about 30 percent of the day-to-day payroll and activities. Voters have wisely renewed the tax in previous elections, and we hope they will do so again.
The renewal of a significant millage for operations of Emergency Medical Services should also be approved by voters.
The 3.13-mill property tax pays almost half of the EMS operating budget, which funds 12 stations throughout the parish. This has been supported by the public since 1984. We commend the work of the EMS crews and urge voters to continue to support them with this 10-year renewal.
In Central, the Fire District will seek renewal of a 10-mill tax. The Fire District operates five stations and responds to about 3,000 emergencies a year. This is a vital public service that requires taxpayer support.
While not a renewal, the continuation of anti-mosquito programs in Livingston Parish is the subject of a tax proposition. It would replace a $30 parcel fee for households and businesses with electricity service with a 3-mill property tax.
It would provide stable and predictable funding for what is, in these days of West Nile virus, a particularly worthwhile public service.