Ascension Parish Council members propose re-dedication of hospital tax to westbank recreation

Courthouse

The Donaldsonville City Council and Mayor Leroy Sullivan heard from two Ascension Parish Council members about a plan to shift half of a local hospital's half-cent sales tax toward westbank recreation.

Both Parish Councilmen Oliver Joseph and Bill Dawson, who represent the west side of Ascension Parish, laid out their proposal in a special meeting prior to the city's second regular meeting for January 2017.

Donaldsonville Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin said the parish representatives were given time to voice their side of the proposal, with the expectation of Prevost Memorial Hospital representatives to receive equal time at a later date.

Joseph and Dawson both spoke in favor of the change, which would require voter approval if legislative support is garnered prior to a February 15 deadline. If placed on the ballot, voters would be able to decide on October 14.

The parish councilmen offered hospital audit financial data as evidence of the medical facility's cash reserves.

According to local media reports, hospital officials have said the reserves would go toward planned major upgrades to the nearly 50-year-old hospital.

In 1980, voters approved the creation of a special tax district to support the city's hospital. To make changes, the legislature would have to go back to the voters.

The audit figures over the last decade show surpluses for the hospital in all but two years (2006 and 2013). Dawson added that the audit was unclear as to why 2013 showed a loss.

Oliver said the plan would tentatively earmark 80 percent of revenue for facilities, 10 percent for maintenance, and the last 10 percent for employees.

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