With St. Charles Parish Council approval, the Library Board will collect the maximum allowed property tax this year in anticipation of building a new $2 million Hahnville library.
Parish President Larry Cochran asked the council to support the move, particularly after rolling back the library millage twice to help cut parish costs.
The council unanimously approved the request with members Marilyn Bellock and Dick Gibbs not present at last Monday’s council meeting.
Library Director LeAnn Benedict asked the council to roll the tax forward to the voter-approved maximum of 4.53 mills, up from the currently collected 4.35 to help build funds for the project.
Benedict estimated a home valued at $200,000 with a homestead exemption will pay another $2.25 this year.
“The approval by the council to roll forward our millage to the maximum rate, as approved by the voters in 2010, will put us in a better financial position to begin making plans for a new Hahnville Branch,” Benedict said.
With the additional tax money, project planning could be started as early as next year, she said.
“As we look to the future, the St. Charles Parish Library Board would like to undertake building a new branch in Hahnville to replace the existing Hahnville Branch,” she said. “In the past 17 years, every other branch in the parish has either been newly constructed or undergone a major renovation.”
Benedict said they are in preliminary planning and do not have a location selected or design plans. She said the project could cost more than $2 million depending on whether land has to be purchased or is donated, and the size of the building.
“As with all of our branch renovation and construction projects, we will look at what the community needs from us,” she said. “We see the demand for study rooms, meeting spaces, innovative programming, and access to computers and other technology increasing across all of our library branches in addition to our traditional offerings of materials such as books, audiobooks, magazines and DVDs.”
The library’s 10-year property tax also comes up for renewal next year. Benedict said the amount of the millage to be requested will be determined, but will be set at an amount that will also generate funds for the new library while maintaining all of the remaining branches.
Benedict agreed to Councilman Paul Hogan’s request that she meet with Tax Assessor Tab Troxler to determine if a millage hike would be necessary when going to the voters next year as industries come off tax exemptions.
She said the smaller the increase the better.
“As with all of our branch renovation and construction projects, we will look at what the community needs from us.” — LeAnn Benedict
Councilman Terrell Wilson, who served on the Library Board, supported the request and said he observed the library system operate in a fiscally sound manner. Wilson said patrons in Norco are elated with the new library there.
Councilman Billy Woodruff asked Benedict whether they would use the existing Hahnville site, but she called it a site with “terrible visibility” and they’d prefer a new location.
- May 2019: New $1.1 million Norco branch.
- February 2017 – West Regional Library renovation – $1.8 million.
- May 2011: New Paradis branch – $1.2 million.
- April 2010: New East Regional Library – $8.4 million.
- March 2003: New St. Rose branch – $1.2 million.