Congratulations, Lafayette, your home equity is growing.
Assessor Conrad Comeaux’s office begins this week sending the letters to residents across Lafayette Parish informing them that their property values are up since the last assessment four years ago — nearly 5.5 percent in both the city of Lafayette and the unincorporated parts of the parish. This is a good thing, no? It means the house I own is worth more than it was four years ago and, should I decide to sell it, I can expect to get more for it. My investment is paying off.
Of course, what it also means, and this is ultimately the purpose of the letters from the assessor’s office, is that my property tax bill is going to go up commensurately with the rise in my home’s value. My taxes are going up. I’m not too bothered by this, not because I want to pay more in taxes. But I realize that in order for my local school board and government — and all the satellite functions like libraries and recreation centers, fire and police protection, paved roads and adequate drainage, having a jail to hold the bad guys — can continue to provide services at the level I’ve come to expect.
It’s no secret that times are tough for local governments everywhere, although it can’t be stressed enough that Lafayette has weathered the Great Recession better than most. But as the cost of operating government rises — fuel costs alone are an acute pressure on government and business alike — revenue must either keep pace or services must be cut. City-Parish President Joey Durel’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which the council is currently picking through and will finalize next month, contains cuts to many, many LCG departments.
Durel’s budget also factored in a very important thing: that the City-Parish Council would see fit to keep property tax rates the same as they were last year. This being a reassessment year and the Durel administration no doubt having a general sense that property values and their attendant tax revenues would be up, the budget reflects this increased revenue and relies on it to stay in the black.
But here’s the rub: It was in no way a slam dunk the council would go along. State law requires local governments to ease back on property tax rates when property values rise so the tax revenue doesn’t exceed the prior year’s revenue — unless a super majority on a city council votes to keep the rates the same, thereby ensuring that tax revenue keeps pace with inflation. Our CPC is a nine-member council; six votes were needed to ensure that pace-keeping revenue stream. And that’s exactly what Durel got Tuesday night. Six council members — Don Bertrand, Kenneth Boudreaux, Jay Castille, Kevin Naquin, Keith Patin and Brandon Shelvin — voted with common sense and prevailed. The three who voted against the ordinance keeping tax levels the same — Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot — have established themselves as champions of short-sightedness.
It’s important to emphasize that a yes vote Tuesday night was to keep tax levels at last year’s rate, not to increase the tax rate. Indeed, the result of the vote is that taxes will rise, but Lafayette will remain the lowest taxed major parish in the state of Louisiana even after these increases go into effect. I suppose we could start really combing through the budget and slashing everything that isn’t roads, bridges and public safety. Obviously non-governmental arts/culture and social service organizations would be the first to go, although line-iteming them out would do virtually nothing to address the issue. We could begin a slow drift toward being like Tensas or Beauregard parishes. Thanks, but I’d rather not.
This is a nonpartisan issue, and last night’s vote reflected it: four Democrats and two Republicans voted yes; the three most far-right Republicans voted no. We can clearly see where the stress fracture on the CPC is located, and it’s not between the donkeys and the elephants, it’s between common sense and pandering.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
C & C Technologies, HIT Fitness, R3 Sciences, the Acadiana Symphony Association and the United Way of Acadiana recognized for innovation.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra has decided to end its traditional Independence Day spectacular known as Red White & Boom.
Under the deal, Teche shareholders would get 1.162 shares of IberiaBank for each share of Teche stock.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The must have pieces this season
Dave Perkins, LCG Comp Plan honored along with local architects and designers at the 2014 INDesign Awards
Greg Manuel’s Lafayette-based residential development company is taking advantage of exponential industrial growth in Lake Charles.
Longtime Lafayette retailer ventures online.
It’s not how aggressive or conservative you are — it’s planning for risk that matters most.
Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, more and more consumers are banking on ATMs and mobile phones.
Regional bank bids farewell to Downtown May 30
ABiz takes a look back at the most noteworthy moments for the local banking industry over the last year.
Most experts say short-term interest rates will be unchanged through 2014, but long-term rates are inching up.
Largest recruitment event in Acadiana returns May 21 to the Cajundome Convention Center
A lawyer’s ad should only be a starting point, as there is much more to consider when seeking quality representation.
Thanks to the inaugural 2012 INNOV8, a design for lifting heavy objects was brought to market.
The annual juried competition recognizes excellence in architecture, interior design and historic preservation in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Cypress Bayou GM hosts open house.
New hires, promotions, transfers in Acadiana business
The scion of a landmark Four Corners restaurant climbs back into Lafayette’s culinary scene as franchisee for a popular burger chain.