St. Tammany Parish Government announced today that the annual Holiday of Lights celebration, which would have marked its 18th year in 2017, will not take place this year due to a lack of funding. This change is part of an overall cost-savings approach in order to achieve a balanced operating budget for 2018, as Parish officials wrangle with an anticipated $18 million revenue shortfall after the razor-thin failure of two sales tax renewals last April. This includes a standstill 2017 operating budget with several initiatives now on hold, a hiring freeze, reduced manpower and operating hours at some facilities, and the consolidation of offices.
The celebration, held at the Koop Drive Trailhead in December, spans two weekends and features entertainment by local school groups, kiddie rides and a tour of the light display on Koop Drive, at no charge to the general public.
Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President has said in the past that all areas of spending are under assessment, and some areas including recreation may in be in jeopardy for the foreseeable future as officials reprioritize. She emphasized that state-mandated obligations and necessary and required priorities are the focus as her team prepares the 2018 budget.