LIVINGSTON - The Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center's future is in the hands of voters once again as a property tax renewal appears on the Apr. 9 ballot.
The tax renewal was previously shot down by voters in five parishes in November. The detention center that is located in Tangipahoa Parish serves Livingston, Tangipahoa, St. Helena, St. Tammany and Washington parishes.
The detention center typically houses around 60 offenders between the ages of 10-16. The center also employs 100 people and can house up to 133 juveniles. District Attorney Scott Perrilloux says the center is critical to the area's criminal justice system.
"Well it's a great tool for all of law enforcement, for the juvenile judges and prosecutors as well to place juveniles, who are a lot of times are a danger and a threat to our community safety, in a place that's professionally run, well maintained and it's local," he said.
Between June 2014 and June 2015, Livingston Parish deputies sent 55 juveniles to the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center. The property tax makes up more than 85 percent of the center's budget. Without the tax the detention center could shut down by early next year.
"Without this facility we're going to be looking for places that someone is going to ultimately pay for in some fashion," Perrilloux said. "So we're not going to avoid expense to the system if this tax is defeated. In fact, it's probably going to increase the cost."
The property tax was renewed by all five parishes 10 years ago, but this time around all five voted against a renewal. A homeowner with a property worth $100,000 would pay $8 a year after the homestead exemption.