POSTED: Monday, November 14, 2011 - 1:09pm
UPDATED: Monday, November 21, 2011 - 5:26pm
GONZALES, LA. (NBC33) — The Ascension Parish Health Department’s 10-year, 2-mill tax will be up for renewal for Ascension Parish voters to decide on November 19.
The 2-mill tax generates $1,627,000 per year and funds several parish departments, said Health Department Manager Kenny Matassa.
With the 2-mill tax, parish government is able to operate the Gonzales Health Unit, the Donaldsonville Health Unit, The Parish Animal Shelter, and the Parish Mosquito Control Department, while also maintaining the building and grounds of the River Region Cancer Center in Sorrento.
The health department millage started in the mid-1950s, and the current 10-year renewal cycle will end on Dec. 31st.
Not only does this millage tax fund the previously mentioned departments, but many services benefitting parish residents are also included with this tax, Matassa said.
Services include the Food Commodity Program where the parish partners with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to dispense food items, four times a year at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center on the East Bank, and the Lemann Center in Donaldsonville.
The Health Department also provides extended health services by partnering with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and providing their staff members with exam rooms and an office at the Gonzales Health Unit. They are currently operating a primary care service for residents of Ascension Parish that do not have insurance or a medical card, Matassa said.
The Parish Animal Shelter was built with funding from this millage tax in 2002 and now the shelter is partnering with the LSU Vet School to provide spaying and neutering services for the animals at the shelter.
Because of serious health issues that started in the early 2000’s with the West Nile virus outbreak in the Northeast, and the influx of other diseases like encephalitis and yellow fever, the Ascension Parish Mosquito Control Department is continuing its surveillance efforts to determine where hot areas of infected mosquitoes may be located in the parish, Matassa said.
“They’ve also set up a testing lab at the department to make quicker location determinations of areas with infected mosquitoes,” Matassa said. “By using GPS on our spray vehicles, we are able to maintain organized spraying grids of our parish for better overall coverage against mosquitoes.”