Millage Propositions could Affect Senior, Park and Library
Written by Forum News
On Nov. 4, among a host of other issues, Bossier Parish voters will decide the fate of two property tax millage renewal propositions and a new millage proposition.
As a result, voters may want to visit their parish libraries and the Cypress Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District to discover what these millage renewals fund, and drop by the Bossier Parish Council on Aging for a primer on services offered to the parish’s seniors.
The Bossier Parish library system’s 10-year renewal of it 7.57 mill property tax is “for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, equipping, maintaining and operating the public library facilities and system” in the parish. The annual millage collects about $7.2 million that’s dedicated exclusively to funding the library system. Heather McEntee, Bossier Parish libraries director, said library users and others interested in knowing what the parish’s eight libraries offer should be able to explore the system’s extensive use of the millage funding on the system’s website around mid-October.
“We want to inform the public on what we are doing with their money and how we serve them,” McEntee said. A short list offered by McEntee includes: “upkeep of the eight facilities throughout the parish, plus all services offered – books, movies and technology. We’re always upgrading the technology – computers and components,” McEntee said. She estimated the percent of the system’s technology users has tripled in the last few years.
Those tax receipts also pay the salaries/benefits of the system’s 90 employees, and a percentage of the millage revenue is dedicated to funding new facilities in the parish. Notably, McEntee pointed to construction of the new Elm Grove library facility; there was no request to taxpayers for additional funding for this construction because the funding was reserved from the annual millage receipts for such capital improvements.
CBB, located in north Bossier, is a public recreation area that encompasses about 350 acres, with Cypress Lake (3,300 acres) and Black Bayou (780 acres), which provides a host of fishing, camping and recreation and special event opportunities. The park features 75 RV spots in a dedicated area and another 20 overflow spots. The park also includes cabins and cottages available to the public, and with a primitive camping area. There’s a beach, playground and hiking trails – and that’s the short list.
And improvements to about all aspects of the park have been the focus of the facility’s board and administration for the last 18 months.
Interim Executive Director Robert Berry said for nearly 30 years, significant upgrades apparently weren’t at the top of the list for the park leadership – but that’s recently changed. Two of the piers have been rebuilt/renovated; electric improvements have been made – with more on the way. Next year the sewer system in the RV area will be upgraded to better serve guests and 11 miles of bike trails are on the way. The beaches, pavilions, Nature Center, cabins and spillway structures are all on the board’s radar to improve and upgrade.
The park is also enjoying growing popularity for hosting local, regional and national sports and recreation events. Bossier Parish schools Cross Country event saw record participation, the Regions Archery Tournament. And the USA Wakeboard Collegiate Nationals will be back as CBB and the Shreveport Bossier Sports Commission collaborates to bring more and more visitors to our area.
Finally, the new property tax millage for consideration by Bossier Parish voters is a one mill levy that would provide more secure funding for the Bossier Parish Council on Aging.
Tamara Crane, executive director of the local COA, said since 1974 the agency has been providing services to seniors with the goal of assisting aging community members to stay at home versus being forced into institutional living for lack of alternatives. Just a few of the alternatives/services offered include Meals on Wheels, assisting caregivers and light housekeeping.
Funding sources for the many programs offered by the Bossier Parish COA include the federal Older Americans Act – which suffered budget cuts last year – and the state Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs (collectively, about 50 percent) and support from the Bossier Parish Police Jury and Bossier City (25 percent). Additionally, the Town of Benton provides space for COA programs. Finally about 25 percent of the agency’s funding comes from client contributions, donations, grants and a small amount of Medicaid funding because the agency is a transportation provider.
Crane said in the agency’s 40-year history, it’s never had a “true and locked in source of secure funding for our seniors.” The proposed millage would provide that security – and allow Bossier City and Bossier Parish to redirect their collective 25 percent contribution to other public needs.
Bossier Parish voters – go visit what you’ve been paying for and what you’re being asked to reinvest and invest in. Chances are that we’ll all find good reasons to continue that support Nov. 4.
Cypress Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District 135 Cypress Park Dr ~ Benton, Louisiana 71006 ~ (318) 965-0007