I had gone into the meeting — virtually, actually, because I watched it online — believing that private enterprise shouldn’t be getting a cut of public dollars. Repealing the rebate wouldn’t increase taxes, but it would’ve redirected about $1.5 million more in revenue annually toward roads, bridges, schools and really sacrilegious transgender dance productions. I don’t use the roads and bridges much, but I loves me some dancing divas.
The business owners who also addressed the council made a compelling case: the rebate isn’t a reward for collecting and turning over the taxes — although it was most certainly a carrot dangled before merchants 50 years ago when the city sales tax was instituted — it’s compensation for the cost to the businesses of providing a service to government, which is subcontracting the collection of sales taxes to local businesses. And the shopkeepers have no say in the matter. They are conscripted by law.
So, as a government, we will leave that $1.5 million off the table. The ordinance failed, and I can’t condemn the council’s vote.
But the issue was illustrative of a bigger, recurring concern in Lafayette (and the genesis of the ordinance): taxes and revenue, or a lack thereof. And before I get a head of steam on this mother, please don’t tell me we’re taxed enough already. Taxes in Lafayette Parish are relatively low compared to other parishes of our population and affluence. Just look at the property tax for schools in St. Tammany Parish (much higher) then compare their schools to ours (much better).
Arguably the biggest money pit in terms of non-essential government services are our municipal golf courses, and with an LCG budget in the $600 million range even the golf courses are a drop in the proverbial bucket. But they’re money losers maintained by the city of Lafayette. (And is it any coincidence that our city leaders over the decades have generally been middle- and upper middle class white dudes, the same demographic that really digs golf?)
Lafayette, relative to other parishes in Louisiana, is geographically small and densely packed. It’s an urban parish, and maintaining our infrastructure and providing recreational opportunities that enhance quality of life while ameliorating the stress on civic institutions impacted by the very urban nature of the parish (read: poverty) costs a lot of money.
Youngsville is forward thinking in this respect. Voters there approved in 2011 a 1-cent sales tax to build a sports/recreational complex, which is now going up in a former cane field and will be open by early next year. Consultants have told city leaders the facility could bring 1 million visitors annually to Youngsville in the future. In response the council approved an ordinance that will put a 4-cent hotel occupancy tax before voters this fall, and Youngsville doesn’t even have a hotel or motel right now. But it no doubt will once the tax-funded sports complex is firing on all pistons. Revenue will be necessary to accommodate growth.
The recently resolved fracas between Lafayette and Broussard over the latter’s annexation lawsuit also speaks to this issue.
Annexations are only about territory insofar as that territory generates revenue via sales and property taxes. No one ever annexed a wasteland.
But here’s where it gets dicey for us as a “consolidated, all-in-this-together” parish: Every time Broussard or Youngsville or Lafayette or any other municipality annexes an area with businesses, it is siphoning sales taxes away from parish government. Remember that Lafayette is “consolidated” more or less in name only. Lafayette city government and Lafayette Parish government operate on separate books and separate revenue streams. Yet it is parish taxes that fund the sheriff’s office, the jail, the parish courthouse and libraries, etc., and as the municipalities race to gobble up the unincorporated parish, funding for those very vital enterprises shrinks.
Lafayette Parish, as a governmental entity, is withering on the vine and eventually, if we don’t do something about it, it’s going to bite us on our collective ass. Yeah, I’m talking to y’all in Carencro, Duson and Scott, too. When the jail doesn’t have room for your bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
We’ll see what happens in the fall when Youngsville voters decide on that hotel occupancy tax. The tea party folks will oppose it vigorously, and I couldn’t disagree with them more.
What a relief!
Abshire has rejoined the Lafayette Bar Association, where she previously served as marketing coordinator under longtime Executive Director Susan Holliday
Home-grown Baton Rouge market/deli heads to Lafayette.
Deadline for submitting noms for annual competition is March 15
Whitney Bank officials have confirmed that the downtown branch will cease to exist when it relocates its regional headquarters to River Ranch at the end of May.
Downtown Lafayette restaurant launches new concept near Le Triomphe
Reamco founders Brent Milam and Ashley Lane now shareholders in acquiring company and part of its management team.
The board hopes to recover all fees paid, plus one-half, along with what could amount to hundreds of thousands in additional penalties.
Oh, the irony... or something like that.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
Oilfield service company’s year-over-year revenues climbed 3.7 percent.
Move is part of company-wide consolidation of residential call centers.
Contentious deposition renders LOGA chief too ill to testify. Here's why.
Proposal for the upcoming legislative session would set Louisiana’s minimum wage at $10 per hour, beginning in 2015, up from the federal rate of $7.25 per hour.
Patrick Kane II recalls his mother awakening him 50 years ago to say his dad’s plane was missing.
His health affected by a contentious deposition last week, the LOGA chief says he can't testify (court will reconvene March 10).
Chair of the energy committee, Mary Landrieu (discussing the urgency of Keystone with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird) should get the respect she deserves in Louisiana.
A fundraiser co-chaired by former U.S. attorneys from both sides of the political aisle could signal the end of Mike Harson’s long grip on the D.A.’s office.
Former W. Home Furnishings owner Rene Ward faces seven years in prison.
Stuller’s Danny Clark focuses on satisfied customers and effective employees as he settles in as the company’s president/COO.
Sterling Ford-Lincoln of Opelousas ribbon cutting and the State of the Parish address
Increases in higher-end home sales say a lot about the health of the overall market.
Who joined whom or got promoted?
World-class athlete riding high in custom bike biz.
Setting the record straight on that February story in HuffPo
Liability waivers — what you need to know before you sign