Voters in Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes will head to the polls Saturday asked to renew a 10-year, 1.5 mills property tax that supports the Tech-Vermilion Fresh Water District — a system of pumps and locks and the personnel and equipment to operate them that help maintain a fresh water supply to Bayou Teche and the Vermilion River. The district is governed by a board appointed by the governments of the constituent parishes and is a member of the Association of Levee Boards of Louisiana. If approved for renewal, the tax will generate about $3.6 million annually.
The Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District was created as part of the 1966 federal Flood Control Act. It maintains a fresh water supply in its namesake waterways via a pumping station on the Atchafalaya River near Krotz Springs as well as weirs on the Teche at its confluence with two waterways leading to the Vermilion. In November, the Lafayette City-Parish Council approved a resolution calling for Saturday’s special election.
The Army Corps of Engineers requires the district to have a $25 million cash reserve by 2012 for maintaining equipment and other purposes. According to its 2010 proposed budget, the district currently has just over $20 million in reserve cash. A 2008 audit released last May by Broussard, Poche, Lewis & Breaux, a Lafayette accounting firm, finds the district with net assets of $5,027,207 against total expenses of $2,073,373.
Last December, at the behest of the CPC, members of the district’s board detailed the agency’s finances and priorities. Don Kelly, the district’s accountant, added that once the district reaches its required $25 million cash reserve, the millage will be adjusted downward to cover only annual operating expenses.