First things first: That resolution before the City-Parish Council on Tuesday that would make tax resolutions coincide with general elections is just that — a resolution. It doesn’t carry weight of law; it would merely express the desire of the council to move tax elections to general elections. State law allows for four elections per year, including those low-turnout spring elections the resolution targets, and it would take a change in state law for the resolution to have practical application.
The resolution sponsored by Tea Party Councilman William Theriot is likely to fail, in large part because council members are coming to the realization that, A), after this fall’s general election, there isn’t another general election in Lafayette Parish until the fall of 2018 and, B) if the parish were to go to a schedule that weds tax propositions to general elections, Lafayette Parish would be incapable of renewing any existing property tax millages that fund a wide variety of services for more than two years.
In 2017 and '18 alone, millages for the parish courthouse, the jail, city of Lafayette public buildings, the parish juvenile detention center, city of Lafayette road maintenance and city recreation maintenance will be up for renewal. Funding for those services will expire if the city/parish were to wait until fall 2018 to vote on them.
Theriot recently told The Advocate that he “received several calls from people across the parish,” ahead of last April’s tax renewal for Bayou Vermilion District — an election in which, admittedly, only 3 percent of voters turned out. (The renewal passed.) “There were many people who were regular voters who did not realize there was an election coming up,” added Theriot, who always receives “several calls” (and emails) about such issues, although we have to wonder: If these voters didn’t realize an election was coming up, why did they call Theriot about it?
District 6 Councilman Bruce Conque tells The Ind that the “resolution is a feel-good, sound-good political maneuver which if passed could further jeopardize the precarious financial status of Parish of Lafayette government.”