Parish Council nixes 'roll up' of millages

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter

The Iberville Parish Council soundly defeated a proposal to roll up property tax millages this year to capture $733,000 in additional money the Ourso Administration said was needed to make up losses in other areas.

Louisiana state law requires public bodies to roll back their property tax millages to levels that prevent them from gaining increments in their income as property values rise. They can, by a two-thirds vote, roll the millages up to gain the extra income from the full millages that voters previously approved. The council voted 4-7 against the proposition.

Parish Finance Director Randall Dunn said the roll-up would mean a three- to 4.75-mill increase in from the rolled back millages, depending on the area of the parish.

Some 60 percent of the additional money would be paid by industry, and homeowners would be little affected, Dunn said. He said the owner of a $75,000 house would pay nothing extra, while the owner of a $200,000 house would pay between $37.50 and $49.37 a year, depending on the area.

On the other hand, Dunn said, revenues from the parish's building maintenance tax continue to provide only 45 percent of the revenues needed for the upkeep of parish facilities.

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. noted that the parish will add two buildings -- the new Tourist Information Center and a new North Iberville Community Center -- the list of property it must maintain.

Because of the bad economy, the parish lost $500,000 in interest income last year, the finance director said. And, he said he is predicting that sales tax revenues, "our volatile case flow," will fall in 2010.

Chief Administrative Officer Edward A. "Lucky" Songy Jr. said last week that the tapering off of Shintech's construction is the primary reason sales taxes are expected to fall.

Councilman Salaris Butler of Seymourville said when voters approved a sales tax, the parish pledged to use the money for building maintenance once construction bonds were paid off. He also argued that the parish put up $1 million to attract SNF to build a new plant here, in addition to funding other new projects.

"I can't see putting a burden on people at a time like this," Butler said. He said he would be willing to vote for the increase if the council was unable to meet its financial obligations.

The rolled-back millages that will be in effect for this year are  2.14 mills of general tax in unincorporated areas of the parish and 1.09 mills of general tax within municipalities, plus 2.67 mills for public building maintenance; 2.67 mills for the Iberville Parks & Recreation District and 3.55 mills for the Iberville Public Libraries parishwide.

Special district taxes include 6.05 mills in Fire District No. 2, 3.24 mills in Fire District No. 1 and 9.93 mills in Water District No. 4.