- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Alexandria voters will decide later this week whether they support a property tax to help fund a municipal recreation program and the city-owned Alexandria Zoo.

The six-mill tax, which will be on the May 3 ballot, would provide approximately $2.2 million in annual funding - half of which would fund recreation and half the zoo.

“I think the city, using the resources it can use to inform the public, has done well,” Mayor Jacques Roy told The Town Talk (http://townta.lk/1foyy9V). “It’s up to the citizens whether they think this is right for them and is really needed.”

Roy was referring to the legal restrictions a public body is under regarding publicizing such a tax. The city cannot spend public dollars or use avenues such as government access TV to advocate for the passage of a tax, only to raise awareness that the tax is on the ballot and provide information about it.

Many city officials feel recreation is a “missing piece” in the local quality of life. Investing to expand the city’s parks and playing fields and run the kind of comprehensive programming the city currently lacks, they believe, will pay off by giving more young people something positive to do with their time and attracting out of town visitors.

Such an investment, though, requires a dedicated source of annual revenue.

The timing of this tax proposal was chosen because the city recently had a 2.15-mill tax - passed to support a 1996 bond issue for the city’s public safety complex - expire.

City officials settled on three mills for recreation to reach the $1 million annually Roy said would allow the city to offer “top-notch, professional programming,” as well as improve an already solid recreation infrastructure. An additional three mills were added to fund the zoo, which relies on yearly fund transfers to meet its budget.

The city council voted unanimously on Feb. 18 to put the tax to voters.

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com