Councilmen hope property taxes pass, fix budget issues in Lafayette

Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 18:14:55-04

Lafayette voters can expect to see at least three parish-wide tax proposals on the ballot in the November election.

Two of the propositions would create new property taxes, one to fund the district attorney’s office and another to fund the district court, the third would increase the property tax collected for the parish jail’s maintenance.

It’s estimated that the owner of a $200,000 home with homestead exemption would pay about $86.75 a year in additional taxes. That’s less than 25 cents a day.

"This is an issue that should not be determined by the council. We need to bring it to a vote of the people," said City-Parish Councilman Bruce Conque.

In November, Lafayette Parish residents will decide the fate of the three tax propositions and council members know that they’re fighting an uphill battle.

"We know there’s an anti-tax sentiment out here. We understand that, but what people need to understand is that if this doesn’t happen, this is a mandate by the state, if we have to fund these three areas it will break the parish," said Councilman Jay Castille.

Of the $13 million in the general fund, 31 percent goes to the district courts and DA’s office.

If the tax measures fail, councilmen said it’ll take at least $10 million from the general fund to meet state requirements.

"So that’s a stress on the general fund that takes away monies that could be better used to serve the needs of the constituency. Digging ditches, repairing potholes, keeping bridges open, things that important to the parish constituency," said Conque.

According to the Louisiana Tax Commission, Lafayette Parish ranks in the top 20 parishes with the lowest property taxes in the state. Council members said that’s because it’s been decades since voters here have approved new property taxes like the ones being proposed now.

"If we were not 50th among 64 parishes in the state of Louisiana as it relates to our millage rate. If we were not 50th, if we were 4th like we are the 4th largest city, and the number one progressive city in the state. I don’t think…but that’s not where we are," said Council member Kenneth Boudreaux.

Council members said these proposed taxes are a bare minimum, and nothing more.

"What are the minimums? What does the DA need to operate? Period. What does the district need to operate? Period. What does it take to allow the jail to take in a capital that they need, based on the needs of that facility and the size of that facility? Period. Stop right there," said Boudreaux.