Mandeville Council considering asking for sales tax rededication

Mandeville voters may be asked next year to change the dedication on a special sales tax so that part of the $4.8 million it generates each year for capital projects can be used for the city’s general fund, City Council members indicated Thursday.

Mayor Donald Villere said such a change does not mean the city’s needs in terms of streets, bridges, sewerage and water would be neglected. But the city’s general fund is experiencing rising costs and flat revenue, he said. The special sales tax fund has a $15 million balance.

If voters approve a rededication, Villere said, the city might be able to reduce property taxes.

The City Council and the administration will discuss what percentage of the 1-cent special sales tax should be rededicated. Finance Director Frank Oliveri said Friday that it will likely be between 50 percent and 75 percent.

The change would go to voters in October or November next year.

In other action, Mandeville resident Vince Talazac complained to the City Council that he has been dealing with a drainage problem at a rental property he owns on Village Lane South for nearly four years and hasn’t been able to get solid answers on the status of work to correct it.

Talazac, who came armed with photographs, said the construction of another multi-family property has caused an elevation problem, and his property is affected during heavy rains.

Villere said the city has kept Talazac informed of what it is doing. Mandeville was able to get authorization for money for the project from FEMA after Hurricane Gustav, he said, but that has meant the work has depended on that agency’s timing in providing the cash.

“The fact that he has gone to the council doesn’t make the federal government go any faster,’’ Villere said.

Talazac questioned why federal money should be used in the first place.

“I think it’s a city problem, not a FEMA problem,’’ he said.

Public Works Director David deGeneres said the City Council could decide to spend local funds for the project, which he said will cost about $300,000. But the administration was trying to save money, he said, and the availability of FEMA money for this project will allow Mandeville to use its money for other work.

The engineering work is done, deGeneres said, although he could not give a firm date on when the work itself would be done.