The net taxable value in Lafayette Parish is down nearly six percent for the first time since 1988, according to Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux.
The Parish Council Tuesday night advanced an introductory ordinance to discuss raising millages, the goal being to bring property taxes to a level where the parish can bring in the same amount of revenue as last year.
But if the council votes to raise the millage, residents will not have to vote on the ordinance. State law allows taxing bodies to receive the same amount of money from millages as the previous year. Parish councilman Kevin Naquin says Lafayette Parish can't afford anymore cuts.
"It's tough times and the Parish is in a situation where we're underfunded now," Naquin said at Tuesday's meeting. "I'd be happy to collect what we previously did."
Naquin is hoping to prevent further cuts in the Lafayette Parish budget. Right now, parish property assessments are down six percent.
"The state law allows us to make sure we receive what we previously did. I don't think we're in the position to roll the dice and just say 'Let's wait and see what happens,'" said Naquin.
He says the parish cannot afford to take another six percent cut in the general fund. Without that money, he says other areas of the budget would be affected, including the courthouse, the jail, and the juvenile detention center.
"If things continue to decline, we'd be faced with the same situation we're in now where the maximum would have to be raised again to bring in the same amount of revenue as this year," explained Comeaux. "On the other hand, if the economy turns around, it could be considered another reassessment."
Naquin believes that to get the parish on better footing, it's time for other municipalities to pay too for parish services.
"We can talk Lafayette Parish One all we want, but until we all put into the pot, we're not Lafayette One," Naquin added.
During the meeting, Comeaux noted that over the last year, the parish has lost more than $450,000 in the parish general fund because of annexations.
This ordinance on increasing the millage to receive the same amount of funding as the previous year will come up for final adoption on September 1.
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