Voters in two areas of Livingston Parish continued what seems to have become a trend when they rejected two proposals for recreation on Dec. 8.
The voters in Livingston Parish Recreation District 7, north of Interstate 12, rejected the proposal for a 15-mill property tax to support programs, maintenance and upgrades to their facilities.
Across I-12, voters in Livingston Parish Recreation District 5 South nixed a proposal for a 10-mill, 10-year property tax to support maintenance and activities for the Colyell-Satsuma area. Both millages failed by more than 30 percent, which furthered the prevailing anti-tax sentiment in Livingston Parish.
The millage marked the second time in less than three years that voters rejected a proposition for the Colyell/Satsuma area. The tax attempt for District 5 South was the third in the same time frame to fizzle – two on the district level and another on the municipal level in the Town of Livingston.
It’s unlikely that either district will make another attempt – and by all means, they should not.
What does it mean for the future of recreation in those two areas?
The districts likely will see an immediate impact. Both will have to operate off the remaining revenue from the split of funds after District 7 dissolved in 2017.
It does not sound like bad news at the start, but it could change once the funding pool runs dry. It could mean more expensive use for the facilities and a higher registration fee for youngsters who want to participate in recreation programs.
Or, it could mean the parks shut down, which would leave residents to seek activities in other areas outside their own community. Regardless of the outcome, it’s what the voters accepted.
The failure of the recreation district funding proposals proved once again that no tax proposal is sacred. It took two attempts for renewal of a recreation tax in Watson in 2014, just as it took a retry on the health unit.
It’s tougher for new taxes, such as the Springfield school tax proposal in 2016, Gravity Drainage District 7 proposition in 2017 and Sheriff Jason Ard’s tax for the school resource officers, which failed in November.
The vote of the people – a cornerstone of our freedom as Americans – ultimately prevailed in all attempts. Amid a fluctuating economy and high cost of living, voters expressed once again that they do not want an additional tax burden.
At the same time, they will have to accept the consequences if or when parks either shut down or fall into disrepair.
It means many families may have to drive to an adjacent area to enjoy the same “quality of life” amenities for which other communities pay a price – and take for granted.
The millage failures will prevent an added tax burden, but the uncertain future of recreation in those two areas will also send a message: You get what you pay for.