Feb 28, 2012 11:28 PM by Shawn Kline

Council opts-out on sales tax; Opts-in on "opt-out"

A pair of controversial issues were on Tuesday night's agenda at City-Parish Government.

The first, a half-cent sales tax to help pay for public safety.
The second, giving LUS customers the option to "opt-out" of smart meters, a new recording system to be installed later this year.

City-Parish Council delayed sending the half-cent sales tax to voters last month and after Tuesday night's meeting, it's been taken off the table indefinitely.
Council however did approve an "opt-out" plan for LUS customers.
If you're a customer and you don't want a new smart meter installed on the side of your home, you now have a choice and it won't cost you anything until November.

At first, LUS wanted to charge a fee of $12/month to customers who say "no" to a new efficient meter, the smart meter.
Some residents raised questions about privacy with these meters. Please see our previous articles for more on that.
That number was taken down to a $5 fee but in the end, Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux says everything is already budgeted right now and the cost should be $0 until the next fiscal year.

"We'll have a truer picture of the number of people that have opted out," Boudreaux said. "(Providing a truer cost) associated with providing that service."

That's good news for folks like Joseph Dugal, fighting to keep an opt-out plan an option.

"There's some real privacy issues with these (Smart Meters)." Dugal says, "you start measuring every 15 minutes and you can really tell about personal activity in your home."

The other item, a half-cent sales tax would have helped build two new fire stations in Lafayette Parish. That's off the table for now, but the threat of dropping Lafayette's fire rating remains.
Without those stations, home insurance could rise due to a drop in the fire rating.

The half-cent sales tax proposal can still be brought up at any time and could still be on the ballot in a November election.



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