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Amendment would allow levee boards to collect tax, raise money for protection

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Vermilion Parish Coast, taken May 6, 2016 (KATC) Vermilion Parish Coast, taken May 6, 2016 (KATC)
Baton Rouge -

A constitutional amendment introduced in the state house would allow several local levee boards to begin assessing a five-mill property tax to fund their operations and to fight erosion.

Last week, the Vermilion Parish Police Jury endorsed the amendment because the tax revenue would give the parish the opportunity to raise seed money for coastal and hurricane protection.

"The parish doesn't have any money to put towards coastal restoration," police juror Kevin Sagrera said.  "With coastal restoration projects, you need to have matching money to qualify for them and get them in your parish.  The state will come up with grants, but the parish has to match those funds up to 20 or 25 percent.

Right now, the Louisiana Constitution allows levee boards created in 2006 or later to assess property taxes only if voters approve them. The amendment in the House, written by Rep. Jerome Zeringue (R-Houma), would allow these levee boards to bypass an election to levy a tax.

If the amendment clears the legislature, voters from across the state would decide its fate during the October 14 election.  If voters approve the amendment, Iberia, Cameron, Calcasieu, and Vermilion Parishes would be allowed to begin levying this tax.

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