CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu ship channel is a big part of our economy, a new effort to create a steady stream of revenue to fund channel maintenance is currently up for debate in the state legislature, however, it would mean higher property taxes for Cameron and Calcasieu parish residents.
A bill proposed by Senator Dan Morrish seeks to create a new navigation district, which would mean a new property tax for residents of Southwest Louisiana.
If passed, senate bill 279 would create the Calcasieu-Cameron navigation district, to provide maintenance and improvement .
Keeping the Calcasieu ship channel dredged has become a major concern for state officials. Morrish has led efforts to find funding for the channel for quite some time now and says now is more important a time than ever for the state to address the issue.
"I'm tired of going to Baton Rouge, I'm tired of going to Washington D.C. and begging for money. Our ancestors had the foresight to build this channel and to create economic development in southwest Louisiana and I think it's our turn to step up to the plate and say we're going to do the same thing."
According to a recent study by a Baton Rouge firm, up to 46% out of every dollar is tied to the channel, a 68-mile man made body of water.
The federal government through the Army Corps of Engineers funds channel dredging, but the Port of Lake Charles has been left footing the bill when it comes to disposing of the dredged material.
The port is responsible for 25% of the construction costs for rebuilding existing disposal sites and acquiring new ones.
If the bill passes, and residents vote yes; Morrish says the average homeowner in Calcasieu parish would pay around $13 a year in order to fund the new navigation district.
With the formation of the new district, it could potentially bring new job opportunities for the region.