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Wednesday, December 4, 2019



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Lockport agrees on budget, considers new tax proposal

Lockport agrees on budget, considers new tax proposal

The town of Lockport has finally approved a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

After several months of back-and-forth between the mayor, Town Council and police chief, the council approved the $879,000budget at a special meeting Monday night.

Notably, the new budget does not take any reserve money out of the town’s fund balance, a first for at least 10 years.

“This budget does balance without that because we found additional revenue,” Councilman Stephen Baudoin said. “But it didn’t contain costs.”

Mayor Ed Reinhardt had pushed for the town to stop pulling from the reserves, and was ultimately successful Monday night after some additional revenue was found from insurance premiums and franchise fees.

Of the total $879,000 in expenses, $523,000 is budgeted for the police department. That’s a $31,000 bump up from the last budget proposal.

The council unanimously approved the budget.

However, for the town to consider giving police officers a raise or buying new vehicles, the council is considering putting a new property tax on the ballot in April.

At the next meeting on Oct. 21, the council plans to vote on a measure to put a 10-mill property tax on the April 2020 ballot.

“Let the people decide if they want to help fund it,” Reinhardt said.

The tax would collect an estimated $96,000 a year, dedicated to the police department.

It would double the town’s property tax rate, which is excluded from homestead exemptions, meaning all landowners would pay the tax—even if the property is valued under the $7,500 threshold.

It would not double the total tax bill, Councilman Wayne Bourgeois Jr. noted, and Lockport property owners also pay parish property taxes that would not be affected by this measure.

The town has about 1,140 different property taxpayers. The new tax, when averaged out between them, would add $90 a year to their tax bills.

Bourgeois said a property tax would be more certain than a sales tax, of which Lafourche already has one of the highest rates in the state, or a fee added on to a water bill.

“A parcel ad valorem is really the only way to get the most,” he said.

The council plans to discuss the matter further at the next meeting before voting to put it on the ballot.

The mayor said he wants to put the measure on the ballot soon before the town starts preparing the next year’s budget.

The next meeting was moved from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21.

 

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.