Aug 22, 2012 11:23 PM by Maddie Garrett

Iberia Parish Debates Mosquito Protection Tax

Iberia Parish's mosquito protection program was on the line at Tuesday night's council meeting. A 1/4 cent sales tax pays for mosquito protection and drainage in the Parish, but some council members proposed dividing up the tax to pay for a levee.

Right now Iberia Parish collects about $4 million for mosquito protection and drainage from the quarter cent sales tax. The council voted to put renewal of that tax on the ballot in December.

"We've got one of the best mosquito programs in the state, there's definitely enough money for that," said Councilman Ricky Gonsoulin, District 8.

But Councilman Jerome Fitch, District 11, sees another problem in the parish -- levees. He proposed re-dedicating half of that sales tax for the levee district.

"If the levee is not built, there's a very possible probability of flooding in Iberia Parish with a catastrophic hurricane," said Fitch.

But asking voters to rededicate the sales tax would mean calling it a "new" tax, even though the amount would stay the same. Council members feared voters would turn down the tax all together, leaving no money for mosquito protection.

"We agree that we need mosquito (protection) and we need the levee, both of them. But to put them together might be an issue when it comes to tax payers," said Gonsoulin.

Still, Fitch said he thinks there is enough money from the sales tax to cover mosquito protection and drainage, and use any money left over to go towards a levee project. He said without re-dedicating the sales tax, a new tax will have to be passed to pay for the levee.

"This is one way we could have probably alleviated the burden on the taxpayers of Iberia Parish by re-dedicating a portion of this tax to build that levee," said Fitch.

Renewing the tax for mosquito protection will be on the ballot in December. If it passes, the council could try and rededicate half of it for levees in the spring.

Also at Tuesday's council meeting, the Iberia Parish Animal Shelter was back on the agenda after the LSU Shelter Med Program visited the parish animal shelter Tuesday.

LSU is expected to release a report and recommendations later this week, after several people in the community complained about poor conditions at the shelter



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