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.
Abshire has rejoined the Lafayette Bar Association, where she previously served as marketing coordinator under longtime Executive Director Susan Holliday
Home-grown Baton Rouge market/deli heads to Lafayette.
Deadline for submitting noms for annual competition is March 15
Whitney Bank officials have confirmed that the downtown branch will cease to exist when it relocates its regional headquarters to River Ranch at the end of May.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Downtown Lafayette restaurant launches new concept near Le Triomphe
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Yeah, it's smoked venison sausage stuffed in a suckling pig stuffed in a lamb and roasted over an open fire.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Reamco founders Brent Milam and Ashley Lane now shareholders in acquiring company and part of its management team.
Low heels, high style
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
The board hopes to recover all fees paid, plus one-half, along with what could amount to hundreds of thousands in additional penalties.
Oh, the irony... or something like that.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
St. Patty's Day crafts
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.