I had gone into the meeting — virtually, actually, because I watched it online — believing that private enterprise shouldn’t be getting a cut of public dollars. Repealing the rebate wouldn’t increase taxes, but it would’ve redirected about $1.5 million more in revenue annually toward roads, bridges, schools and really sacrilegious transgender dance productions. I don’t use the roads and bridges much, but I loves me some dancing divas.
The business owners who also addressed the council made a compelling case: the rebate isn’t a reward for collecting and turning over the taxes — although it was most certainly a carrot dangled before merchants 50 years ago when the city sales tax was instituted — it’s compensation for the cost to the businesses of providing a service to government, which is subcontracting the collection of sales taxes to local businesses. And the shopkeepers have no say in the matter. They are conscripted by law.
So, as a government, we will leave that $1.5 million off the table. The ordinance failed, and I can’t condemn the council’s vote.
But the issue was illustrative of a bigger, recurring concern in Lafayette (and the genesis of the ordinance): taxes and revenue, or a lack thereof. And before I get a head of steam on this mother, please don’t tell me we’re taxed enough already. Taxes in Lafayette Parish are relatively low compared to other parishes of our population and affluence. Just look at the property tax for schools in St. Tammany Parish (much higher) then compare their schools to ours (much better).
Arguably the biggest money pit in terms of non-essential government services are our municipal golf courses, and with an LCG budget in the $600 million range even the golf courses are a drop in the proverbial bucket. But they’re money losers maintained by the city of Lafayette. (And is it any coincidence that our city leaders over the decades have generally been middle- and upper middle class white dudes, the same demographic that really digs golf?)
Lafayette, relative to other parishes in Louisiana, is geographically small and densely packed. It’s an urban parish, and maintaining our infrastructure and providing recreational opportunities that enhance quality of life while ameliorating the stress on civic institutions impacted by the very urban nature of the parish (read: poverty) costs a lot of money.
Youngsville is forward thinking in this respect. Voters there approved in 2011 a 1-cent sales tax to build a sports/recreational complex, which is now going up in a former cane field and will be open by early next year. Consultants have told city leaders the facility could bring 1 million visitors annually to Youngsville in the future. In response the council approved an ordinance that will put a 4-cent hotel occupancy tax before voters this fall, and Youngsville doesn’t even have a hotel or motel right now. But it no doubt will once the tax-funded sports complex is firing on all pistons. Revenue will be necessary to accommodate growth.
The recently resolved fracas between Lafayette and Broussard over the latter’s annexation lawsuit also speaks to this issue.
Annexations are only about territory insofar as that territory generates revenue via sales and property taxes. No one ever annexed a wasteland.
But here’s where it gets dicey for us as a “consolidated, all-in-this-together” parish: Every time Broussard or Youngsville or Lafayette or any other municipality annexes an area with businesses, it is siphoning sales taxes away from parish government. Remember that Lafayette is “consolidated” more or less in name only. Lafayette city government and Lafayette Parish government operate on separate books and separate revenue streams. Yet it is parish taxes that fund the sheriff’s office, the jail, the parish courthouse and libraries, etc., and as the municipalities race to gobble up the unincorporated parish, funding for those very vital enterprises shrinks.
Lafayette Parish, as a governmental entity, is withering on the vine and eventually, if we don’t do something about it, it’s going to bite us on our collective ass. Yeah, I’m talking to y’all in Carencro, Duson and Scott, too. When the jail doesn’t have room for your bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
We’ll see what happens in the fall when Youngsville voters decide on that hotel occupancy tax. The tea party folks will oppose it vigorously, and I couldn’t disagree with them more.
What a relief!
The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge's order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Halliburton says it has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a substantial portion of plaintiff claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
While bogged down with qualifying candidates last month, Secretary of State Tom Schedler didn’t lose sight of the true endgame coming in November and December.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stoned driving a concern when pot is legal; Detroit's bankruptcy trial; speed trap scandal in Florida and more national and international news for Tuesday, September 02, 2014.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
New Iberia colonial or Broussard traditional home
The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
Fiery style for game day
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
No laboring for shoppers this holiday
It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.