By Cade R. Cole
During this election residents of West Calcasieu have the unique opportunity to vote to lower their taxes while increasing investment in drainage. Historically, drainage taxes were levied by Ward, but without a large industrial or commercial tax base the outlying areas paid tax rates that were about double those paid in Lake Charles and Sulphur.
Professionals studied this matter and recommended that consolidation into one district that benefits all of West Calcasieu would produce efficiencies allowing better service while consolidating the tax rate into a single lower millage. Water doesn’t know ward boundaries, so dealing with drainage issues as a whole would allow for a better response to drainage problems.
The new West Calcasieu drainage board is required to include a member from each community served and is required to maintain a maintenance crew and office within each pre-existing district. However, the hundreds of thousands of dollars of efficiencies already saved through financial best management practices like better negotiated contracts, bulk purchasing, and streamlined administration still allowed the overall tax rate to be lowered, while still dedicating more funds for major projects, and an overall improvement of services.
There is a rate reduction throughout the district, but it is especially noticeable in areas that had been paying a higher rate. A yes vote will reduce the drainage tax rate in the DeQuincy and Starks areas by cutting the tax in half.
This is a unique opportunity to increase funding for important public services while also lowering taxes. If the consolidated proposition passes, the Police Jury has also committed additional matching funding for added investment in capital projects. We all know there is much to be done, and this proposition is an important step.