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Wednesday, April 24, 2019



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School Board seeks $2.6M in owed oil royalties

School Board seeks $2.6M in owed oil royalties

The Lafourche Parish School Board is taking steps to reclaim $2.6 million in mineral royalties currently held by the state.

Schools Superintendent Louis Voiron told the School Board last Wednesday that the state owes the district $2.6 million in mineral royalties collected from production on 16th section land in Lake Raccourci, located in south Lafourche to the west of Leeville.

The money was collected from 2007 to 2010, Voiron said. Despite the sinking land, the state has ruled the school district is still entitled to royalty revenues because the land is still producing.

The board unanimously approved a resolution asking the state Legislature to appropriate the $2.6 million owed to the district. That figure includes the interest, Voiron said.

Voiron said the district has been working with the board’s attorney Patrick Amedee and state mineral board representative Carol LeBlanc to “push our Legislature to finally give Lafourche Parish School Board the money it’s owed.”

“It’s one-time funding, however it’s one-time funding that we can absolutely use to help our fund balance out in this school district,” Voiron said.

The School Board also agreed to partner with the Lafourche Parish Assessor’s Office to implement a new data program for the state Industrial Tax Exemption Program.

The Industrial Tax Exemption Program allows businesses to apply for a tax break at the parish level, exempting them from paying property taxes for so many years while promising to create more jobs and payroll for a higher economic impact.

Previously, these applications were handled on the state level. But when Gov. John Bel Edwards took office, he put the process in the hands of the parish. Now, for such an exemption to be approved, the parish School Board, council and Sheriff’s Office must all agree.

Under the agreement, Assessor Wendy Thibodeaux is purchasing and installing a new data system that will streamline the process for Lafourche Parish.

The new system will compile all property and sales tax data to objectively calculate the impact a potential tax exemption would have on the parish, Thibodeaux said.

When a company applies for the program, the data will be inputted into the system and be evaluated as a net positive, zero effect or net negative. If the system determines the exemption would have a net positive effect on the parish economy, it will automatically be approved, Thibodeaux said.

If the program determines there will be a net zero or a negative, the decision will be given to the three entities, the School Board, Parish Council and Sheriff’s Office to decide.

“I’m very very excited. I know it seems very simple as a piece of paper, but the message that this is sending out, I cannot stress to everyone how important this is to our parish for the growth of our parish,” Thibodeaux said.

Voiron said this program is “not costing the School Board a penny.”

“I really was pushing for us to have a solution that didn’t put our board in a situation where we were arbitrary at any time about making any types of decisions,” Voiron said. “I think we needed something objective.”

The Assessor’s Office is paying for the program in its entirety. It should be up and running in two weeks, Thibodaux said.

“This is going to show everybody, businesses out there that we got our act together,” Thibodeaux said. “We are going to be the examples for moving Lafourche forward in the right direction.”

A similar resolution will next be presented to the Lafourche Parish Council, she said.

 

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