Parish tax vote set for today

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 1, 2010

VIDALIA — Three parish taxes are up for renewal today, and local officials say a “yes” vote is vital on each one.

The taxes up for vote are a 1-cent sales tax for the Concordia Parish School Board, a 6.94 mil property tax for those in the area covered by the Concordia Fire Protection District No. 2 and a 3.78 mil tax for the area covered by the Consolidated Recreation District No. 3.

Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Ninety early votes were cast.

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Voting yes for recreation would lock the tax in for 41-years, and it would generate $308,483.28 annually for the $6 million complex that will feature baseball and soccer fields plus basketball and tennis courts.

Mayor Hyram Copeland said this tax has been renewed for the last 50 years, the only difference this time is the long time frame.

“The current park is completely full — they have 540 children involved in Vidalia with 52 teams and there is no room for expansion,” Copeland said. “I urge all of the parents and grandparents to get out and support the project because it will be a tremendous benefit to their children and grandchildren.”

Recreation District No. 3 President Marc Archer said without the renewal, the district would not be able to get a bond to build the new recreation complex.

“People have been asking for this new complex for years,” Archer said. “Without the renewal we can’t guarantee the creation of the facilities because we won’t have money to pay back a bond.”

Copeland said it would also impact the town economically.

“When state tournaments are held here it will bring people to shop at the stores and eat at the restaurants,” he said.

At 3.78 mils, Archer said this tax, which people already pay, is asking far less of residents than complexes of this scope typically ask.

“Similar projects across the state have asked for 15 to 16 mils property tax,” he said.

Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein said without the sales tax that benefits the school district, it would be harder for the district to provide the same quality of education.

“It will be much harder for the system to continue hiring qualified and certified employees,” Blankenstein said.

Blankenstein said the annual $2.3 million the tax generates covers salaries, maintenance, utilities and much more.

The school district tax is the only parish-wide tax, and it would lock in the 1-cent sales tax for 10 years.

Copeland said he supported the school sales tax 100 percent too.

“We have got an excellent school system in Concordia Parish and I’m very proud of it,” he said.

The $479,000 the 6.94 mil tax generates covers the operating expenses of the Concordia Fire Protection District No. 2, and voting “yes” would lock it in for 10 years.

Clerk of Courts Clyde Webber said he expects the turnout to be very light because there have been no big campaigns. But he said he’d like to be proven wrong.

“Everybody, get out and vote and exercise your right as a citizen,” he said.