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.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
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.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.