LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Voters in Livingston Parish will be presented with a new tax to support a better drainage plan. It is the first time such a proposal is being put on the ballot for District 7, which is in the southern part of the parish. Voters in District 6 rejected a similar plan in the past but will have another chance to approve it.
Parish councilman Jeff Averett said the new tax should help prevent the kind of flooding homeowners suffered last August.
The creeks that run through southern Livingston parish are shallow and cluttered.
"The creek is just full of debris," Averett said.
Trash, old box fans, tires and fallen tree branches that have clogged the creeks so badly the water has stopped flowing in most of them. When it rains, the water has nowhere to go but up. Averett said he has been documenting the damage since last August.
"It's gotten a lot worse since the flood of 2016," Averett said.
Averett said part of the problem is that the districts in the northern part of the parish already have voter-approved taxes that help pay for the manpower and equipment to clear the creeks in that area of the parish. Because of that, the southern end takes on its own debris and whatever floats down from there.
"We have four people in the parish cleaning up 200 something miles of square mileage," Averett said.
Engineer and President of Quality Engineering and Survey, Deric Murphy, said he has got a plan he believes would alleviate flooding at this end of the parish. He said it is costly but critical.
"If another event does come it could cause greater issues in that area," Murphy said.
Murphy said the cost to avoid flooding that could potentially happen is millions of dollars.
For the first time, the parish is asking that voters approve a half cent sales tax increase to help cover a plan that would include hiring more workers, buying equipment and getting the work done. The estimated cost for families living in a $100,000 home, for example, would be $20.00 a year.
"Without money, we can't do anything. We can't do a plan, action, an actual design or construction," Murphy said.
Averett said, if approved, residents will begin noticing a difference as soon as next year.
"I'm going to say it will be a big improvement in five years, substantial," Averett said.
The tax election will be held on November 18.
On the ballot in District 6, there will be a half cent sales tax and a 5 mil property tax.
In District 7 it will be an 8 mil only tax.