Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Pat Cooper threw an unexpected — and highly welcomed — new pitch into the presentation of his six-year district turnaround plan Tuesday night when he suggested that the community establish a commission to reassess every property in Lafayette Parish.
“I’m going to show you another slide, and I may get slapped and run out of town. But I’m going to do it anyway,” Cooper told a packed Thibodaux Tech cafetorium during a turnaround forum held by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders’ Council. “Why don’t we arrange for the creation of a blue ribbon committee to begin the process of reassessing property values so that all property is valued at true worth and taxed accordingly? This would probably solve the school system’s money issues while bringing fairness to taxpayers.
“If we don’t have that fair tax assessment, and the dollars that go along with it, we’re losing money,” Cooper continued amid widespread applause from the large crowd of stakeholders in attendance. “Some people are paying very small taxes, and some people are paying a lot. All I’m saying is let’s help the tax assessor do this. Let’s bring fairness to everything. Then you don’t have to change tax rates, but everybody’s paying their fair share. That’s one idea.”
Tuesday's forum marked the second public presentation of Cooper's "100% In ... 100% Out" plan to transform the district from the "C" performance score it currently maintains to the "A" district he envisions in six years. It was the first mention, however, of property tax reassessment as one possible solution to school system funding issues.
As The Independent reported in its Feb. 22 cover story, “Downtown Development,” Jefferson Street alone is home to numerous commercial buildings with notably low property valuations, amounting to the potential loss of millions in revenue for public schools and other services — libraries, police protection, etc. — funded by property taxes.
Also noted through ongoing coverage from The Independent’s “Fair Share” series is Lafayette's loss of millions more every year in tax revenues thanks to a loophole in state law that allows the city’s wealthiest landowners to pay agricultural property tax rates for some of the most commercially valuable vacant land in the city.
The state law mainly relies on the honesty of landowners who claim there is some type of agricultural activity on their land in order to pay extremely low property taxes (i.e. one bale of hay). But The Ind’s April 2011 “Green Acres” cover story and subsequent “Fair Share” series have identified numerous tracts of land throughout the parish that benefit from the exemption yet have no agricultural activity whatsoever taking place on them.
The collective property tax bill for the 4,085 acres of agricultural land in the city limits was a little less than $9,200 in 2010. According to Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux, had the farming acreage been assessed using a commercial valuation of only $1 per square foot (though some of this very property has sold as high as $18 a square foot), the revenues to the parish would have totaled $1.5 million.
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
Artificial sweeteners eyed; Scottish independence vote begins; Ford has cancer and more national and international news for Thursday, September 18, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.
The superintendent will make another go at getting a budget passed for the already commenced fiscal year as the LPSB is slated to meet tonight on the eve of the state’s budget adoption deadline.
A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
It seeks an investigation into a $100,000 fund transfer from Vitter's federal campaign account to an independent PAC supporting Vitter's 2015 candidacy for governor.
Landrieu has acknowledged that she improperly billed her Senate office for nearly $43,000 in charter costs that should have been paid from her campaign account.
House District 45 Rep. Joel Robideaux is term-limited and running for city-parish president next year, leaving his seat up for grabs come 2015 and at least three likely contenders so far, including ...
When the Browns explained their plans to Brian Hoyer about bringing rookie Johnny Manziel into the game, Cleveland's starting quarterback bit his lip and devised one of his own.
National debate over solitary confinement puts spotlight on Angola inmate’s 35 years in ‘the hole’