Ascension considers youth detention tax
GONZALES- The Ascension Parish Council will introduce a proposal Thursday evening at their regular meeting which would levy a one mil tax on homeowners in parish to raise funds for a juvenile detention center.
The tax would raise about $900,000 a year and cost about $25 for a home worth $250,000.
In the 1980s the State Legislature, authorized parishes to collect the millage without putting the tax to a vote, but Ascension never opted to levy the fee.
Now some council members think it's time to raise the money.
"As a result of our great schools we have a tremendous number of young people, and realistically the number of young people in need of juvenile services is going to rise in Ascension Parish," said Councilwoman Terri Casso.
Right now, the parish houses it's juvenile offenders at the St. James Youth Center, but will switch to the Assumption Parish facility in July.
Chief Deputy Tony Bacala thinks the regional model works best now, but more service will be needed down the road.
"It's really not cost effective to build a detention center in Ascension Parish right now, but everyone agrees in years to come, the need for a dedicated detention facility in Ascension Parish is going to exist," said Bacala.
The tax would help pay to send current offenders out of the parish, while the rest of the money would be saved for an eventual detention center.
Councilman Bryan Melancon doesn't like the idea, though, saying it does not give the people a chance to vote. He'd rather put the measure before the electorate and let the people decide.