The Courier, Houma, La., on voters making a sound decision on taxes:

May 6

The Courier, Houma, La., on voters making a sound decision on taxes:

It was a day for deciding the fates of taxes.

In Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes alone, there were five separate tax issues on the local ballots.

The measures had a split result.

Terrebonne Parish voters soundly rejected a more than quadrupling of their school property taxes, and Bayou Blue voters voted down a nearly 10-mill increase in their recreation taxes, but a parish-wide question on joining the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District — which will come with a 2-mill tax — passed.

And none of the results were really close.

The Bayou Blue tax failed by a nearly 2-1 vote. And the parish-wide schools tax failed by a more than 3-1 margin. But the question on the water district passed by a nearly 2-1 vote.

The results, taken together, show that voters are more than able to distinguish between various issues on the same ballot.

And it’s a good thing, too.

The question of whether to join the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District is a clear choice.

Terrebonne is nearing the end of its 40-year agreement with the district that supplies the majority of its drinking water. It will have to negotiate a new contract, which would have come with a user fee of at least $4 per month per household.

The 2-mill tax will come out much less than the projected $48 a year the user fee would have cost.

Membership in the district also comes with a bit of political power. Because Terrebonne will be in the district, it will have four seats on the board that oversees it — as many as any other member parish.

Had voters rejected membership, Terrebonne would have been negotiating its contract without a seat on the board now or in future negotiations.

As it is, Terrebonne’s home- and business owners will see a slight increase on their tax bills, but they won’t see anywhere near the expense that would have come with a user fee to cover the added water expenses.

Asking voters to approve a new tax is never an easy proposition, and it is one that local leaders should not take lightly.

However, when a strong, compelling case is laid out for why a tax is necessary and the best option available, local voters have shown they can be trusted to make the right decision.

No one wants to pay more taxes, and no one should have to unless there is a good reason to do so. In this case, there was, and the voters picked the best available alternative.


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