This 8-acre property on Alleman Drive off of Johnston Street near Park Place Apartments comes equipped with a one-bedroom “shed,” carport with two barbecue pits and a city trash bin. Its property tax bill for 2010? $17.41.
While it’s not in the prime commercial land slot, the agricultural-use status was granted to owners Greg and Darcy Logan in 2003 despite its location in Sun Valley Subdivision, a residential neighborhood.
The land is among the 4,085 acres of agricultural use property in the city of Lafayette, acreage that has come to light over the past two months as The Independent Weekly finds more and more property owners skirting the already lax guidelines that allow landowners with large tracts of prime property to pay next to nothing in property taxes.
Local attorney Greg Logan says he bales hay on the undeveloped acreage, though we won’t know for sure what kind of residential or agricultural activity is taking place until an inspector with the assessor’s office revisits the property. Logan also maintains that he was required to have a bedroom constructed in his shed in order to receive a permit, and says the assessor’s office visited the property in 2004. He does not know, he says, what is taxed and not taxed on the land.
If the property had been assessed without the agricultural status loophole, the Logans would have been billed a little more than $5,000 in 2010 property taxes — a figure that doesn’t even factor in the one-bedroom metal building that may or may not be rented out or occupied. Nor does it include two red metal storage buildings resembling small barns.
Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux says if an inspector visited the property in 2004 and found hay, then any storage buildings would be exempt from property taxes.
The Ind is not highlighting these properties in an attempt to have them taxed out of ownership, but rather hoping that the loophole in a law designed to protect farmers and their farmland could somehow be adjusted to a more fair rate and not allow other landowners to take advantage.
As Comeaux pointed out in our “Green Acres” cover story (April 6, 2011), if the thousands of agricultural classified acres in Lafayette were assessed at even a small fraction of their fair market values, the parish would have received an additional $1.5 million in 2010 property taxes, the public dollars used to fund infrastructure, education and other critical services.
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DEC 6 Here we are, at the top of another bad list: this time, Louisiana has the (dubious) honor of beating out all other states when it comes to gutting higher ed funding, this Picayune story reports. The American Association of Colleges and Universities says our cuts (nearly 18 percent this year alone) are the highest in the nation. Three-fourths of the states increased funding last year, with the top spender increasing funding by 28 percent. This is a great legacy for our governor, right?
DEC 6 Blogger Lamar White Jr. takes a look at the creepy effort over in Baton Rouge, wherein the southern, lily-white area of the city wants to secede from the union, er, create its own "city" and take all the really fat sales tax cows with it. Turns out the group campaigning for the move is a for-profit corporation, and Lamar says that means its effort won't pass legal muster.
DEC 6 Blogger Tom Aswell tells us about some fishiness he found in the state worker's comp office. There's some confusion about when one guy started working there, and there's also some involvement by a GOP lege from Hammond. It's all just another example of the Jindal administration's actions that "defy explanation," Aswell says.
DEC 6 Edwin Edwards may think it's possible he will be governor again, but columnist James Gill isn't so sure. Edwards would have to get a presidential pardon to run for governor -- unless he wants to wait until he's 99, Gill says. But even Edwards' many supporters should probably hope he doesn't get that, because there's no real chance he can win, Gill says.
DEC 6 Here's an interesting post on DIG Magazine for football history buffs. It's about the Pelican Bowl, the Bayou Classic and the history of black college football. It's a trip down memory lane and the story of a "mythical black college national crown." What killed it? Trying to compete with the Bayou Classic.
DEC 6 Nelson Mandela became famous while sitting in prison, where he was a symbol of apartheid. But his enduring legacy was his ability to forgive, to reach out a hand of peace to heal his country of division and oppression, and the Picayune talks about this aspect of his personality. The story also reminds us of the more light-hearted moments Louisiana shared with the former President of South Africa.
DEC 6 We've all been passed by a nut on the highway and assumed the driver was on drugs. Maybe that's not hyperbole: here's a story from the Picayune about a guy riding around with a meth lab in his back seat. One wonders if his insurance policy included coverage for random explosions.
DEC 6 Here's a new blog in the NOLA Defender; it's called Shift Change, and it's all about cocktails. This installment by Rhiannon Enlil focuses on the sazerac, the enigmatic cocktail made with absinthe. But Enlil also introduces herself, a long-time NOLA bartender who has "a lot of booze" in her house.
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