Taxes

What do you think? Louisiana Constitutional Amendment #3 — Tapping the rainy day fund

All the way up to Election Day, we’ll be asking readers to sound off on the amendments.

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What do you think? Louisiana Constitutional Amendment #2 — Oil Well Property Taxes

All the way up to Election Day, we’ll be asking readers to sound off on the amendments.

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Council Preview 10/6: Answers on LUS investigation, what to do with LCG’s CARES Act money, polling locations, final adoption on parish tax increases

The gist: Some City Council members want more answers about the ongoing investigation into LUS and LUS Fiber, which the mayor-president escalated into criminal allegations. The Parish Council is likely to approve increases — without a public vote — for some property taxes to make up for lost revenue. Meanwhile, more money is pouring in from the federal government. Full agendas here

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COLUMN: The parish’s lose-lose proposition to raise taxes

Saying the parish should live within its means is one thing, but actually cutting millions from a threadbare budget is something else entirely. Parish government now faces the unenviable choice of raising taxes or cutting essential services.

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Council Preview 9/1: Higher taxes, fighting for city autonomy, millions in new spending, new restrictions on citizens

The gist: Tax increases, budget battles, new restrictions on citizens, short-term rentals, millions of dollars being spent on parish parks and the Buchanan garage are just some of what the councils will work through at tomorrow night’s meetings. All of this is set against a backdrop of rapidly deteriorating race relations and an increasingly embattled mayor-president.

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It’s not just the parish. The city’s financials are in trouble too

The general assumption has been that the parish is broke but the city is doing fine. When you dig into the latest budget, a more troubling reality emerges.

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Lafayette can’t afford the way it’s growing

Everyone knows Lafayette’s roads are bad. But some roads are so bad they’re a public safety hazard. Unfortunately there’s just not enough money to fix them, and the problem is getting worse every year.

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The parish can’t afford to fix drainage without more money

Some want to claim that the only thing preventing us from fixing our flooding issues is a shift in priorities. But the reality is that the parish can’t afford to fix its drainage system without more revenue.

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Council votes to put library funds transfer on ballot, but not without changes or rancour

The gist: The City-Parish Council voted Tuesday night to call an election this fall to redirect $10 million of the library’s $26 million fund balance to unidentified infrastructure and parks and rec projects.

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That’s less than originally proposed — and with an allocation for parks. An amendment offered by Councilman Jay Castille moved $2 million to parks and $8 million to drainage. Mayor-President Joel Robideaux’s original proposal, floated back in January, was $18 million for roads, bridges and drainage only. Robideaux argued then that such a large redirection would still leave the library with more than enough money to continue operations, a position the administration maintained in council discussion. They mayor’s argument is based on projections that the library’s property tax revenue will grow by more than 100% over the next 11 years, despite that it grew by only about 1% the last two years. Voters will weigh in on the October ballot.

The council voted 6-2 in favor of this amended resolution. Voting no were William Theriot and Jared Bellard, two of the original resolution’s co-authors.

“Robideaux’s proposal was done without library input, so how could he know what we need?” Andrew Duhon, the library’s vice chair, asked the council. He argued that the original proposal didn’t account for potential lower projections for property tax revenue growth, noting that property tax revenue flatlined in the 1980s.

Opponents of the amended proposal say including parks and rec could kill it at the ballot box. Theriot and Bellard made the case that parishwide voters are more worried about flooding than parks and recreation. “Why would we want to invest money in other things if people can’t protect their homes?” Theriot asked.

Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux is stumping for a library east of I-49.  He supported lowering the amount of money transferred to pay for it. No library exists east of the Evangeline Thruway, he said, lamenting that kids from those neighborhoods, low income areas with poor rates of literacy, need to bike across the highway to get to a library. “We want a library like everybody else,” he said.  

Duhon believes the library could pay for a new library on the Northside, even if some of its fund balance is shifted, and that Boudreaux makes a compelling case for it. But it’s not clear the library can afford to staff and operate a new facility. The library is projected to collect about $2 million less in tax revenue than it costs to operate the system’s existing facilities next year. To maintain current operations it’s going to have to dip into its fund balance. If property tax revenue flatlines or declines, it won’t be long before it will be forced to cut its existing budget by 20% or more. In other words, there’s money to build a library but there may not be money to staff it. The library board has opted not to recommend “rolling forward” — collecting at its highest possible rate — one of its remaining two property taxes, a decision that could reduce projected income by as much as $800,000 annually.

We have to pass the transfer to know how the money’s going to be spent. The administration has not detailed which projects the redirected  dollars would go to. Also unknown is the mix of drainage, roads and bridge improvements. Same goes for the parks and rec allocation.

$10 million may sound like a lot of money, but it’s dwarfed by project needs. Public Works reports a backlog of $97 million in road projects alone on top of tens of millions of dollars in drainage maintenance work. A comprehensive overhaul of the drainage system, which some believe is the only real solution, could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

One big takeaway: The council doesn’t seem to agree on the same set of facts. At no point during last night’s discussion did it seem like anyone had the same understanding of the library’s financial situation, or the potential long-term impact of transferring some of its surplus for other needs.

What happens when a Walmart dies?

Walmart’s decision shines a light on serious issues with no easy answers.

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Retail and home sales up, unemployment down, but there’s more to this story

Recent headlines indicate 2018 might be the year our economy started recovering. But there’s ample evidence that any optimism should be guarded given the situation our economy’s in.

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When dedicated taxes lock up options

Voters demand flexibility and quick responses, but representatives are hamstrung in their ability to divert dedicated funds.

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