[Update: The City-Parish Council on Tuesday voted 5-4 against the resolution calling for a half-cent sales tax to replace the 5-mills property tax that expires this year. It’s unlikely the council will revisit the issue in time to get a tax proposition on the April ballot, although voters in the city of Lafayette may be asked in November to approve the sales tax and let the property tax expire.]
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will decide Tuesday night whether to put before voters on April 21 a city-wide half-cent sales-tax proposition that would raise the city of Lafayette sales tax to 8.5 percent. The additional half cent collected on every dollar spent on retail purchases would be directed to the police and fire departments.
Currently in Lafayette, 5 mills of the overall property tax burden is devoted to public safety and generates about $6 million annually, but that 5-mill public-safety tax will expire after property taxes are collected this year. The half-cent sales tax would, according to projections, generate a little more than $16 million annually, representing a $10 million increase in public safety funding. Moreover, the new revenue would be generated by everyone who makes retail purchases in the city of Lafayette as opposed to only property owners in the city who are currently generating the funding. Food and prescription drugs, which are currently exempt from the state sales tax, would also be exempt from the proposed city sales tax.
The administration and public safety officials have justified the tax as a needed means of meeting increased operating expenses and infrastructure needs. According to the resolution before the council Tuesday, if the Lafayette Fire Department is unable to build two new fire stations — LCG doesn’t currently have the funds to build new stations — it runs the risk of having its fire rating lowered, which would likely lead to “a significant increase in insurance costs for residents and businesses” in the city.
Today’s Advocate has a good break-down of the issue. Read that here.
Click here to read the resolution laying out the justification for the tax.
The special meeting to consider the tax resolution is set to begin following a meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which follows the regularly scheduled CPC meeting.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
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.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.