The City-Parish Council on Tuesday passed a resolution clearing the way for city of Lafayette voters to decide next April whether to substantially increase the property tax devoted to the Parks & Recreation Department. If approved on April 6, 2013, the millage will more than triple from the current 1.92 mills — a rate set in the 1960s — to 7 mills, 5 of which will be earmarked for operations and maintenance at existing facilities; the other 2 would be for construction of new facilities and improvements to existing facilities.
In one of the many inequities built into “consolidated” government, only city of Lafayette property owners pay for the upkeep and new construction of the dozens of public parks, ball courts, playing fields, golf course and recreation centers, although residents across the parish use these facilities. The city has more than quintupled the number of these public facilities since the early 1960s, even as the property tax has remained the same. The net effect, as Parks & Recreation Director Gerald Boudreaux pointed out to the council a few weeks ago, has been to starve the department of revenue.
The proposed millage increase is expected to generate about $8.5 million annually. Currently the department is subsidized by the general fund to the tune of about $4 million annually, according to Boudreaux. The department will require a $6 million subsidy next year to operate at its roughly $12 million budget.
The council voted 5-3 in favor of the resolution, with Councilmen Jared Bellard, Don Bertrand, Kenneth Boudreaux, Jay Castille and Brandon Shelvin voting in favor; Councilmen Andy Naquin, Keith Patin and William Theriot voted against it. A handful of residents also spoke out against the resolution.
A survey posted at theind.com late last summer found a resounding majority of readers, more than 80 percent, willing to pay higher property taxes to fund the Parks & Recreation Department.
You can watch last night’s council meeting online here.
The Advocate’s Richard Burgess also has a good breakdown of the issue here.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.