CROWLEY, LA — This week people across Acadiana have the opportunity to vote early, and in Acadia parish, a tax renewal is the first item on the ballot.
The money has helped the local LSU Ag Center and Rice Arena for more than 20 years, but this year the funding could end.
“It affects everyone. It affects the whole parish,” said Scott Hoffpauir, who lives in Acadia Parish.
“Shall the Parish of Acadia, State of Louisiana, be authorized to levy a two and twelve-hundredths mills tax”. That’s how the sample ballot starts, but that’s not what the families impacted want you to focus on.
“It’s very important that we let them know what that millage is, what it’s going for, and how it’s going to be used,” explained Jeremy Hebert, the Acadia Parish LSU Ag Center agent.
The millage he wants everyone to understand is a renewal of a 10-year tax used by the parish since the 1990s to fund 20% of the local ag center and rice arena’s budgets.
It was on last year’s ballot and failed. If it fails again, the money will run out by the end of the year.
“That is what helps us do all of our activities and runs our clubs. If we don’t have that, I don’t know what the future is going to hold for a lot of these kids,” explained Lauren Hoffpauir who is asking people to vote yes on tax because it helps fund 4-H programs in Acadia Parish.
She said, “This is a family. This is not just some out of school activity. This is what I love.”
“If we can’t offer those programs what’s going to happen to those kids? That’s what I’m worried about,” said Jill Myers, a 4-H volunteer in Church Point. With all she gives to the program she doesn’t believe the millage is asking for much, just $8 per household each year.
4-H isn’t the only hidden beneficiary from the tax. It also gives to family and consumer science programs and helps pay for farming workshops year-round.
Lauren Hoffpauir’s father Scott believes the programs are needed for the rural parish, “It’s just so important for our kids to grow up and carry the traditions we have in our parish. The rice farmers the soybeans, crawfish.”
The tax is not all take and no give. It also generates revenue for the community. Hebert said 40,000 guests visit the Rice Arena barn annually, and that brings revenue to local restaurants, shops, and other businesses.
The LSU Ag Center says Acadia parish grows over 80,000 acres of rice 20,000 acres of soybeans, so Hebert argued the economic impact of training the next generation of farmers cannot be understated, “This is the future of Acadia Parish. This is the future of Louisiana. This is the future of America.”