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Assessor urges Lafayette Mayor-President to reconsider vetoing parish council ordinance

Posted at 10:50 PM, Sep 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 00:08:47-04

The Lafayette Parish Assessor is warning of the consequences that could come after the Mayor-President vetoed a property tax increase.

Two weeks ago, the parish council approved a tax increase of about $35 per property to help fill a shortfall in tax collections.

That increase would have paid for roads, bridges, drainage, and the courthouse complex among other items.

The Mayor-President, citing issues he had with the funding for libraries, the health unit, and "CREATE," nixed the increase today.

For now, property tax rates in Lafayette will stay the same, but Lafayette Assessor Conrad Comeaux is concerned that if the parish doesn't bring in more revenue, services could suffer.

"With parish government, it's already strapped for money and this may just force additional cuts. I don't know where all this is going, but it'll be interesting to watch,” said Comeaux.

Comeaux says right now the parish has only about $50,000 in its reserve fund.

He says that lack of money is causing a trickle down effect for parish agencies like the library, putting them in a bind.

"What that forces the library to do is use their fund balance. If their revenues aren't strong enough at that point to continue, then they'll have to end up closing some libraries,” said Comeaux.

When the parish council voted to adjust the millages two weeks ago, parish council chairman Kevin Naquin said the parish stood to lose four million dollars without the adjustment.

He also said the parish would have to cut positions created to fix roads and bridges. Comeaux is urging parish leaders to find a solution before that becomes a reality.

"There needs to be more of an holistic approach in looking at revenue streams into the future because next could be worse than this year revenue wise,” said Comeaux.

On Thursday, the parish council will hold a special meeting to discuss the veto. According to Naquin, the council will consider separate ordinances to increase the millages that fund roads, bridges, drainage, and the courthouse complex.

He also says the council will vote on ordinances to keep millages for the airport, libraries, the health unit, and "CREATE” at their current levels.

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