Being last on the ballot did not hurt the renewal of a 2.78 mill property tax which funds maintenance, operation and improvements of the Webster Parish courthouse and properties which have been added to the building inventory in the past few years.
The renewal passed 6,087 to 5,805.
Webster Parish Police Jury president Jim Bonsall was thankful for the vote of confidence from residents.
“I want to thank them for voting, thank them for giving us a vote of confidence to take care of their money and their property…I’m tickled to death it passed,” Bonsall said. “It would have been hard if it didn’t.”
In addition to the courthouse at 410 Main St., maintenance funds cover the annex, located across the street on the second floor of the Regions Bank building. That area houses the sheriff’s administrative offices plus detective and narcotics divisions.
Also, maintenance funds are used for the health unit and parish extension/LSU agriculture center offices located in the old West office building in West Plaza Shopping Center, the assessor’s office on South Monroe Street and the health unit in Springhill.
“The millage tax raises about $650,000 annually and it usually covers the maintenance expenses,” Ronda Carnahan, police jury secretary-treasurer, said. “But it’s important to remember that when the tax was first passed we did not have the properties we now have, and we’re responsible for all the maintenance and upkeep.”
Bonsall said the police jury will soon have to spend more money to repair an air conditioning and heating system in the courthouse that is more than six decades old. Estimates to bring the system up-to-date are more than five years old, he added.
“We’re looking at having to spend $1.2 million, and that’s a five-year-old estimate. We have a boiler system that was installed when the courthouse was built in the 1950s. The old boiler is cracked and we’ve patched it a couple of times,” Bonsall said. “Chances are it’s going to fail and we might not have heat with winter coming.”
Some of the $1.2 million has been received from the state, Bonsall said, but there’s no guarantee the remainder will be coming.
“We received $525,000 from the state and we have been promised that we’ll get the rest next year from capital outlay,” Bonsall said. “But we know sometimes promises from capital outlay aren’t always delivered.”