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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Parish President Explains Road Sales Tax District Consolidation

Parish President Explains Road Sales Tax District Consolidation

“A sustainable source of revenue for roads, bridges and drainage maintenance is necessary going forward,” said Parish President Charlotte Randolph at Tuesday’s parish council meeting, outlining her administration’s proposal to combine the two parish road sales tax districts into one.

According to Randolph, several factors convinced her that rolling the two districts into one will serve the future needs of the parish.

The hiring of and paying for specific maintenance crews to handle the three areas - roads, bridges and drainage - is one consideration which will be a parish necessity for upkeep of the many ongoing parish projects, she said.

She noted that personnel costs are about 70-80% of any fund’s expenditures.

Money, $50 million, bonded over the past few years for roads and drainage, has already been earmarked for projects throughout the parish.  Future enterprises will need funding going forward.

And other major ventures, such as a parish jail, replacing aging South Lafourche Levee District pumps, and exorbitant personnel costs will heavily impact future spending in the parish’s royalty funds.

Randolph noted that replacing pumps in the south will cost over $21 million.

The two districts were formed years ago and successfully lobbied their constituents to vote for a sales tax increase of one cent to fund road projects.

Road Sales District #2 was able to get its voters to rededicate half of that tax to levee protection. 

Randolph’s consolidation plan would call for everyone in the parish to pay the same percentage, thus raising RSTD2  back to a full cent. 

Many in the southern part of the parish are unwilling to pay more sales tax and came to Tuesday’s meeting to say just that.

“There are other ways to fix the problem besides sales tax.  I question the legality of this,” said Larose resident and businessman Neal Adams.

Susan Terrebonne, a Galliano resident, said people voted to reduce the sales tax in the RSTD2 area and this move to increase it is not ”fair, honest, or trustworthy.”

She said that something voted on by the people of the area should not be so easily changed by ordinance.

The notion that South Lafourche residents pay a heavier burden in taxes than the northern part of the parish was debunked by Randolph. She indicated that the North Lafourche Levee District will again be asking its northern constituents to agree to a one-cent sales tax increase for flood protection.

She also recognized the 19 new subdivisions, some 800 homes to be built in Raceland and above, which will not be homestead exempt, and which will garner the parish a great deal in property tax.

The shift in new homes being built almost exclusively in the north makes north and south equal, she said.

Randolph outlined her plan to ask voters in November to fund a new jail.  Her intention is to rededicate library millage, use the library’s $12 million bankroll, and ask voters to consolidate sales tax districts.

“These are all hinged together.  A tax specifically to fund a jail is not a popular issue in this parish.  They (voters) will accept it better if we have a plan,” she said.

Randolph called her tax district consolidation plan a way to make sales tax equitable across the parish, and pay for projects.