Depending on your perspective, the City-Parish Council Tuesday night voted to let property taxes rise in Lafayette Parish. But they did it by voting to keep the tax rates the same.
Following a somewhat impassioned — and sensible, we should add — plea from City-Parish President Joey Durel to run the parish like a businessman rather than a politician and maintain 2011’s property tax millages for the city and unincorporated parish, the council voted 6-3 to “roll forward,” a clunky way of saying “maintain,” the millage rates. Because this is a reassessment year and property values have increased nearly 5.5 percent in both the city and rural areas, property owners will see their tax burden rise commensurately with their property values. In effect, rolling forward the millages allows the revenue stream from property taxes, which help fund everything from the sheriff’s office and jail to the parish courthouse and public libraries — only a small percentage of overall property taxes go to Lafayette Consolidated Government — to keep pace with inflation.
C-P President Joey Durel delivers pointed remarks to council members, urging them to maintain current property tax levels for the city and unincorporated parish.
“The cost of business continues to go up and anybody who thinks that cost of doing business doesn’t include government is living under a rock,” Durel told council members. “The cost of everything to the private sector goes up for government, too.”
In making his point about politicians versus businessmen, Durel pointed to an unwillingness by previous elected leaders to ask voters to agree to adjust millage rates to meet growth. He used as an example the city-wide millage for the Parks & Recreation Department, which was set in the 1960s when the department maintained one recreation center, a handful of parks and one golf course. The millage has not changed in a half century, yet the department now operates 39 parks, 10 rec centers and three public golf courses.
Durel also pointed to the millage for the parish jail, which in the 1980s moved from a one-story facility atop the parish courthouse to a five-story jail across the street: “There was a millage to run that one-story jail. They built a five-story jail and didn’t increase the millage,” Durel said. “That is running government like a politician, because no business on this earth would increase their expenses without a corresponding revenue. And guess what? We’ve been able to do it without raising your taxes. And you think to yourself, ‘Well, you see that? You don’t have raise taxes because you ran that jail without raising my taxes.’ And all we did was rob from Peter to pay Paul. We no longer cut grass and we no longer cleaned ditches and we no longer fixed roads.”
State law requires municipalities to lower millages when property values rise so the resulting tax revenue doesn’t exceed the prior year. However, a super majority on a legislative panel, in this case six members of the nine-member CPC, can vote to keep the millages at their current level, thereby ensuring that government revenue keeps up with inflation. Councilmen Don Bertrand, Kenneth Boudreaux, Jay Castille, Kevin Naquin, Keith Patin and Brandon Shelvin voted to keep the city and parish property millages at their current level; the usual suspects — “politicians” Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot — voted against.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.