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Sunday, July 14, 2019

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Upward trend seen in parish tax collection

Upward trend seen in parish tax collection

A representative from Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle’s Finance Department gave some good news at the most recent Council public meeting regarding the upward trend in parish tax revenue collection.

“I’m not ready to put my party hat on and think that we’re out of (trouble) yet, but it is a good trend,” said Accounting Manager Carol Hymel.

This comment regarding the apparent good financial fortune which Lafourche Parish finally finds itself in is welcome news after three down years.

At the July 24 public meeting in Mathews, Hymel reported on the impact of 2018 tax collections in four major tax funds — Road Sales Tax District “A” (RSTDA), Road Sales Tax District “2” (RSTD2), Solid Waste and Royalty.

RSTDA realizes sales taxes from residents in central and northern parts of Lafourche while RSTD2 collects primarily in the Tenth Ward and slightly north of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Solid Waste and Royalty taxes are collected throughout the parish.

Hymel noted that based on collection data for the first five months of 2018, all four funds are up. He estimated collections for 2018 based on the first five months and compared those numbers to the previous year.

“The good news is that the trend is an increase in tax revenue,” said Hymel.

For example, he said that while the Finance Department budgeted $4,044,384.19 for RSTDA in 2018, Hymel projected actual taxes to be about $4,503,222.62, a nearly half-million dollar increase.

Likewise, RSTD2 is seeing an upward trend as Hymel noted a $632,113 positive difference in projected collections this year over last.

Royalty is trending “up” $213,850 and Solid Waste “up” $1,132,990, said Hymel.

This all adds up to a possible increase of $2.4 million in 2018 tax revenue in the four funds, according to Hymel’s figures.

He also included figures on taxes such as alcohol, video poker, severance, and building and energy permits.

These and others like franchise and occupational license taxes projected to collect about $4 million in 2018 and averaged an upward trend as well, although only about $190,525, he said.

Hymel’s message was definitely one of guarded optimism.

“It’s not a like a rubber band that will bounce back, but it’s promising to see that if you look at the longer chart that shows ten years, were hitting some months that are ranking within the top five in the last ten years. It’ll be interesting to see the rest of the year,” he said.

“You did a great job and I appreciate all the reports we’ve been getting the last few meetings,” said Chairwoman Luci Sposito, thanking Cantrelle’s administration for the latest revenue projections.

During Cantrelle’s presidency, the Council had frequently requested such reports but had been unable to urge President Cantrelle to supply financial summaries.

By the passage of Ordinance 6037 in May 2018, Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle was compelled to present a quarterly report on parish finances.

The ordinance was originally passed on April 24, vetoed by Cantrelle on April 30 and overridden at the May 7 special meeting by 7-0 vote. (Councilmen James Bourgeois and Daniel Lorraine were not present.)