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Lafayette M-P vetoes Parish Council ordinance for millages on library, combined health unit, cultural economy taxes

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Posted at 6:01 PM, Sep 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 19:01:10-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory has vetoed an ordinance passed by the Lafayette Parish Council that would have set millage rates and imposed property taxes for the Lafayette Parish Library, the Combined Health Unit and Cultural Economy taxes.

On Sept. 3, the Lafayette Parish Council approved ordinance PO-039-2020, which would have set forth and designated the ad valorem tax millage rates and imposed taxes on all property subject to ad valorem taxation in Lafayette Parish.

“I am strongly opposed to tax increases without a vote of the people,” wrote Guillory in a letter to the council explaining his veto. “There are serious questions regarding these measures.”

Guillory states that the specific levies in the ordinance that prompted the veto are for:

  • The 3.12 mill Library tax (2017-2026)
  • The 1.97 mill Library tax (2013-2022)
  • The 2.36 mill Combined Health Unit tax
  • The 0.27 mill Cultural Economy tax

The letter says that while property values in the parish have dropped since the last reassessment, the government’s first step should be to prioritize services that are essential rather than automatically impose greater property taxes on citizens.

Guillory then urges the parish council to pass revised ordinances that would levy the taxes at their prior millages.

The letter states that leaving the two library millages at their current rates would result in a total reduction in revenue for the Lafayette Parish Library of about $746,099. And leaving the Combined Health Unit millage at its current rate would result in about $377,050 in total reduction of revenue.

“After a thorough review of the last few years fiscal year-end audits, it is readily apparent that the budgeted amounts of each of the fiscal years exceeds identified needs,” writes Guillory. “Quite simply, the agencies affected by these reductions in revenue can continue to provide their essential services to the citizens of Lafayette Parish even with this reduced revenue.”

The letter ends with a reminder that the 0.27 mill Cultural Economy tax is scheduled to go before voters in Lafayette Parish on Nov. 3 when they will decide whether the millage should remain in place or go towards fire protection, roads and bridges in the parish.

“It is premature to raise the Cultural Economy millage when it may be rededicated by the voters in less than two months,” writes Guillory.

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