West bank voters reject decrease in Prevost Hospital sales tax

Hospital Administrator Vince Cataldo with Parish President Kenny Matassa (foreground) at Prevost (file photo)

With a healthy 48.7% turnout, voters on west bank Ascension Parish rejected a proposal that would have reduced the sales tax funding Prevost Hospital by half yesterday.  Supporters of the proposal packaged the initiative as a diversion of funding from Prevost to West Ascension Recreation Facilities District #1, which could only have occurred in a separate election.  Pushed by two west bank Parish Council members, the proposal failed by a margin of 58-42%.

1,023 of the 3,329 votes were cast early with 62% of those opposed to the ballot initiative.

Parish Councilman Oliver Joseph pushed the proposal, beginning with creation of the Recreation Facilities District in 2016.

2017: Chairman Bill Dawson and Vice Chairman Oliver Joseph (both of whom represent Ascension’s west bank).

In February 2017 the body considered a recommendation from its Recreation Committee to “redistribute the current one-half percent sales and use tax,” diverting half of it “to be provided to the West Ascension Recreation Facilities District #1.”

That was determined to be illegal because separate tax proposals cannot appear on a single ballot initiative.

Multiple council and committee meetings were conducted where Prevost’s Administrator Vince Cataldo was grilled, mocked, and belittled by colleagues of Joseph and his Councilman Bill Dawson who kept their hands clean.  A particularly testy exchange in February of 2017 saw Cataldo take on Prairieville councilman Aaron Lawler directly.

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But Cataldo and his Prevost supporters won the day on Tuesday.