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.
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The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
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By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
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Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
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Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
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State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
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