Early voting begins Saturday on a handful of referendums and political races across southeast Louisiana, including property taxes that have generated some opposition in New Orleans and St. Tammany Parish.
The early voting period runs through April 22, excluding Sunday. Election day is April 29.
Topping the ballots are property taxes for the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office and the St. Tammany Parish coroner's office. Both proposals have generated some blowback from other elected officials questioning the amount and need.
Judge, council member runoffs
Another item on the New Orleans ballot is the runoff for the Division A judgeship at Criminal District Court, between Simone Levine and Leon Roché II. Levine and Roché rose to the top of a three-candidate field in the March 25 primary. Both are Democrats.
In Covington, Republicans Jimmy Inman and Cody Ludwig will meet in the runoff for the District D seat on the City Council. Inman and Ludwig, the incumbent, ran 1-2 in a four-candidate primary.
Voters in New Orleans will decide the fate of a 5.5-mill tax for the Sheriff's Office. The proposed levy, which would almost double the existing millage and generate $12.4 million annually, drew fire on Thursday during a City Council meeting. Sheriff Susan Hutson told council members the bulk of the revenue would go to pay increases, to help attract and retain employees. Some council members said her pitches have lacked a clear and detailed breakout of how the money will be spent.
In St. Tammany, Coroner Charles Preston is seeking to extend a 3.1-mill tax to generate $7.8 million annually. Preston argues that the renewal is needed to help cover his office's functions, which range from death investigations to DNA analysis to sexual trauma examinations. Parish President Mike Cooper has questioned the need for 3.1 mills, saying Preston is asking for more than the office needs.
The ballot in New Orleans also includes a handful of property tax measures for neighborhood improvement districts, and the ballot in St. Tammany includes taxes for a fire district and drainage district.
Plaquemines Parish voters will decide a property tax for hospital services, and voters in St. John the Baptist will see a property tax renewal for the public school system.