Miller breaksdown tax fund renewal

SISTERS ROAD – Vehicles have to wait for oncoming traffic before passing over Sisters Road Bridge. Funds for a new million-dollar bridge would come from the parish’s one-cent sales tax, which is up for renewal in Dec. 5.

Tangipahoa Parish Government has placed  renewal of its parishwide 1-cent sales tax on the Dec. 5 ballot.

The tax has been in effect since 1992 with renewals happening every four years during the year after council elections.

“Over the years, the previous administration and now our administration have done very good work with the 1-cent sales tax and have been able to keep it at 1-cent,” Parish President Robby Miller said, adding that they have been able to keep it at 1 percent by using it wisely.

More tax revenues from the increases that occur as the parish continues to grow have been helpful, he said.

“It’s working very well for us and the renewal is critical. Without it, for the most part, all parish services stop,” Miller said.

“Without this tax, we have very little income that can be used,” he said. “We definitely would have to cut all of the roads and bridge [projects] and many of our services.”

The parish might also have to condense operations to one location instead of operating in both Hammond and Amite, reducing hours of operation, personnel and some services completed without the renewal, he added.

Breakdown

Seventy-five percent of the 1-cent sales tax is dedicated for roads and bridges and the other 25 % goes towards maintaining all the parish’s public buildings, repairs and day-to-day operations.

According to parish government data, the parish collected about $24,900,000 in sales tax, which resulted in $14,500,000 (58%) going toward road and bridge operations, $6,100,000 (25%) toward the general fund; and $4,300,000 (17%) toward the road overlay program.

The following local departments and agencies receive funds through the parish’s general fund: 21st Judicial District Attorney, 21st Judicial District Court, constables, Crimestoppers, Hammond City Court, justices of the peace, Agricultural Extension offices, Parish Planning & Permitting, parish public buildings, Quad Area Community Action Agency, 7th Ward Marshal, Tangipahoa Economic Development, Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court, Tangipahoa Parish Coroner, Tangipahoa Council on Aging, Tangipahoa Parish Jail, Tangipahoa Parish Office of Homeland Security, Tangipahoa Registrar of Voters, Florida Parishes Arena and Veterans Affairs Office.

The one-cent sales tax has also helped the parish to make information systems more secure from hacking, which was accelerated after hacking began around the state, Miller said.

Bridges

“Bridge maintenance and bridge construction is exceptionally expensive,” Miller said.

In the past four years, the parish has replaced Vinyard Road Bridge and is replacing Sisters Road Bridge. Each bridge replacement costs a little over $1 million, he said.

The parish also repairs bridges daily, which is handled and inspected by its bridge division.

For the Sisters Road bridge project, the parish plans to straighten the road and widen the bridge to 24 feet of deck with two 11-foot lanes. It will look like the new Vinyard road bridge, Miller said.

Parish government is acquiring land for the project and plans to begin construction in April. Construction will take about a year, during which time, it will be closed to thru-traffic, he said.

Roads

Funds for roads are used to completely redo and maintain roads, do patch and repair work and clean roadside ditches.

Miller said the parish typically spends a little over $4 million a year overlaying roads to keep them in good shape, as well as overlaying many miles of gravel roads, giving lesser traveled roads a 3-course treatment and hard surface.

In the north end, gravel roads are either being turned into 3-course treated roads or paved, he said.

The 1-cent sales tax helps with the goal of eliminating gravel roads, he said. 

Future projects that will benefit from the tax are the sidewalk project on University Avenue, Old Covington Highway study launching, the Old Baton Rouge Highway project with the city, South Hoover and Sisters Road roundabout and related projects, future parish overlays, and any grant funds for transportation, roads and bridges that require a financial match.

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