751 vote early on $60 million bond issue for schools, hospital

April 19, 2012 at 10:08 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

On Saturday St. Charles Parish residents will decide whether the school system and the hospital will be able to borrow a combined $60 million.

The money, which includes $45 million for the school system and $15 million for St. Charles Parish Hospital, will be used for future construction projects.

During early voting last week, 751 people headed to the polls. That’s almost triple the number of people who voted early last year when St. Charles Parish Hospital sought to raise taxes, according to Registrar of Voters Brian Champagne.

That measure was shot down by the voters and this time neither the hospital nor St. Charles Parish Public Schools are seeking a tax increase.

Five new wings are included in the list of future projects for the school district. Of those wings, one will be built with an arts sector at Destrehan High, one with a ticket booth at Hahnville High, one with a locker room at Cammon Middle, one with 13 classrooms and a library at Norco K-3 and one with six classrooms and a library at Luling Elementary.

The list also includes field house expansions and renovations at both local high schools, renovations on buildings A-D at Norco 4-6, modification/incorporation of the A. A. Songy facility at Lakewood Elementary and a kindergarten addition at Mimosa Park Elementary.

The total for all future projects is estimated at about $40.1 million and will reduce the number of portables from 74 to 10

Whether or not the measure passes, parish residents will continue to pay the current school tax rate until 2022.

If it passes, residents will pay the same tax rate until 2032, but if the measure fails the tax rate would drop after 2022.

St. Charles Parish Hospital wants to borrow $15 million to build a new outpatient medical center, a state-of-the-art cardiac catheter lab and an East Bank-based after-hours care center.

Hospital officials said they will be able to borrow the money without increasing the current tax rate, which means that the owner of a $200,000 home will continue to pay $39.50 a year for hospital services.

The tax rate would decrease if the money is not borrowed.

The new outpatient facility would have a cardiology center, a center for digestive care, a lung center, vision care and a department for orthopedics and sports medicine. The estimated cost of the center is $6.6 million. The planned cardiac catheter lab would be built at a cost of $2 million, which is also the estimated price of a new after-hours clinic on the East Bank, hospital officials said.

The hospital also plans to spend $1.9 million on "state-of-the-art equipment," $2 million on physician practice development and $500,000 to upgrade the ambulance fleet.

Voting will take place Saturday from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more information visit www.geauxvote.com.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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