IPRD board can decide millage issue

Deidre Cruse

The Iberville Parks and Recreation (IPRD) Board of Directors – not the Iberville Parish Council – has the authority to determine whether to roll its millage forward to capture all three mills of tax voters approved in 2002, the Louisiana Attorney General's Office has advised.

IPRD Executive Director Mike Markins said the seven-member board voted 7-0 to ask for the opinion, and now has advertised an August 16 public hearing and meeting to consider whether to roll the millage up from the current 2.67 to the full three mills.

Under Louisiana law, when property values increase, millage rates are automatically rolled back to prevent the government from benefitting from the additional funds. It takes a two-thirds vote of a governing body to roll the rates back up to the levels approved by voters.

For the past three years, the Parish Council has made the decision for IPRD, Markins said, costing the recreation agency the $120,000 a year it ordinarily would have spent to replace equipment such as swing sets or picnic tables or make repairs at parish parks. The board chose not to cut its programs for children and adults.

The legislation creating IPRD specified that the tax millage goes directly to the recreation agency, Markins said, unlike millages for the Iberville Parish Library and Water District No. 3, for example, which go directly to the Parish Council.

The Attorney General's opinion said IPRD, therefore, is considered to be the taxing authority entitled to determine whether to increase the rate.

At 2.67 mills, IPRD receives some $1.1 million a year, he said. If the Parish Council were to approve the tax at 2.67 mills again this year, IPRD would be confined to the rate when it asks voters to renew the tax in 2012, the director said.

Voters approved the10-year tax at three mills by a margin of 81 to 19 percent in 2002.

IPRD has scheduled a public hearing on whether to roll up the rate or leave it as is for 5:45 p.m. Thursday, August 11, at the Carl F. Grant Civic Center Lobby.

The Iberville Parish Council has called a similar public hearing on whether to roll up the rates on its millages for 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 16, at the Courthouse. The council will receive some $7 million from its property taxes this year. Rolling up the tax would give the parish a $244,665 increase.

Last year, the council rejected Finance Director Randall Dunn's recommendation to roll the taxes up. Councilmen did allow a roll-up for the parish library system.

The Iberville Parish School Board, the local governing agency with the greatest dependence on property taxes, has called a public hearing for 4:30 p.m. Monday, August 8, to decide on a roll-up.

The School Board will receive some $24.3 million in property taxes this year. Rolling up the millage would net another $942,265.