Bond commission approves putting tax renewal funding juvenile detention center on spring ballot

Bond commission approves putting tax renewal funding juvenile detention center on spring ballot

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A millage extension that funds a juvenile detention center located in Covington will be up for a vote again this spring.

On Thursday morning, the State Bond Commission gave unanimous approval to the request from the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center.

Back in November, voters elected to halt a millage that funds 85 percent of the $7 million budget for the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center.
The ballot item would have extended the 3 mills tax for another 10 years, after already being in place for the past two decades. Without that money, the facility will likely have to be shut down.

David Merlin Duke, who heads the detention center's commission, said Thursday's vote was important because, provided voters approve the measure, there will be no interruption to the tax and the facility will not have to dip into reserve funds in order to stay operational.

"It is only Thursday, it has been an extremely long week. These two hurdles were tantamount to go back to the voters," Duke said. "the bond commission saw the need for the facility, and that is validation that the volunteer work I do for the commission is worthwhile."

Earlier this week, a subcommittee of the bond commission recommended that the commission approve the ballot request.

On the spring ballot, the measure will now include the words "to continue to levy."

The center handles young offenders before and sometimes after they go to trial. Those juveniles come from several area parishes, including Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa. It also services Washington and St. Tammany parishes.

On average, it houses about 60 young individuals who are facing charges that include rape, attempted murder and home invasion.

Duke said that if the millage is affirmed by voters, the facility will continue its commitment to roll back the millage whenever possible. For the past four years, they have rolled back the millage. Currently they are collecting a mill of 2.75.

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