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Health Unit tax debate set for Livingston Parish

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LIVINGSTON - The parish council approved a 2.5 mill tax renewal for the parish health unit Thursday night in a second attempt at getting the renewal approved by voters.

In November, voters denied the original, 5 mill renewal.

The change means, if passed, the average homeowner would pay about $200 a year to fund the health unit.

At its current rate, the health unit was able to have a surplus of $6.6 million. The savings were part of the debate over why the tax should be 5 mills.

"To come back on top of that and set it at 5 mills and continue to put money in the surplus. It's stupid. I can understand why our taxpayers don't understand our government and how we set our taxes," councilman Ricky Goff said.

Before the change was approved, other council members said they were worried by lowering the renewal, voters might not realize it's not a new tax.

"They don't mind paying the taxes that we already have, but as far as any new taxes most of the public doesn't pass a new tax. That's one of the concerns we have," councilman Chance Parent said.

The health unit sees nearly 1,000 visitors a week. The unit serves expecting mothers and young children in Livingston Parish. The council will vote in February to put the lower tax proposal on the May ballot.

The council pondered if, by cutting the tax in half, could new taxes be added to properties to raise money for animal control or mosquito abatement.
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