$5.5M tax hike for flood protection slated for West Jefferson ballot Nov. 21

Andrea Shaw, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Andrea Shaw, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
on August 12, 2015 at 6:32 PM

 As part of its hurricane preparedness efforts, the corps of engineers closed the sector gates and fired up four of the eleven pumps at the West Closure Complex in Belle Chasse, LA on Thursday, April 30, 2015. Built in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the $1.1 billion complex is designed to block a 100-year storm surge from entering the Harvey and Algiers canals and threatening thousands of structures on the West Bank.(Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

West Jefferson voters will consider a $5.5 million tax increase to pay for flood protection when they go to the polls Nov. 21. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday (Aug. 12) calling for the election.

If approved by West Jefferson voters, the 5.5 mills would be levied for 30 years beginning in 2016. Under that scenario, residents would pay a total of 10.53 mills yearly for flood protection. That means the annual tax bill for the owner of a $175,000 home with exemption would be $105.

Authority Board President Susan Maclay said the increase is needed to pay for operating the West Bank’s $4 billion hurricane protection system built in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Expenses include maintenance of 80 miles of levees, floodgates and floodwalls and the mammoth West Closure Complex in Plaquemines Parish. The facility is designed to block storm surge from rushing up the Harvey and Algiers Canals and flooding most of the community.

Meanwhile, the authority is anticipating $34 million in additional costs associated with raising subsiding levees and “armoring” them with sod and federal recertification of levees.

“The WJLD (West Jefferson Levee District) has been operating off of the same level of mills since its founding in 1980,” Maclay said explaining the reason for the election. “…Now that the system is complete, the West Jefferson Levee District is responsible for the costs of Operation, Maintenance, Repair, Replacement and Rehabilitation (“OMRR&R”) of a vastly expanded system including pump stations.”

It was the authority’s second call this week for a tax election. On Tuesday, the authority set a Nov. 21 election for Algiers voters to consider a 6.35-mill renewal for 30 years. The Special Levee District Improvement Tax brings in $1.2 million a year.

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