LCG, others serve notice: higher taxes possible

by Walter Pierce

LCG is one of several taxing bodies that have published notices in newspapers about the possibility of raising millages.

Lafayette Consolidated Government on Tuesday issued a public notice to notify residents that the City-Parish Council will “consider levying additional or increased millage rates without further voter approve or adopting the adjusted rates after reassessment and rolling forward to millage rates not to exceed the prior year’s maximum.”

LCG is one of several taxing bodies that have served notice in newspaper ads about the possibility of raising millages. Taxing bodies like LCG are required by state law to publish two public notices by July 15 in a reassessment year about the possibility of adjusting millages. In today’s Advertiser, the Lafayette Parish School Board, Bayou Vermilion District, the town of Duson and the city of Carencro also served notice that they might adjust millages to seek additional revenue.

That means taxes could go up on a range of property taxes that support everything from the parish and city of Lafayette general funds, to roads and bridges, drainage, the library, and police and firefighter salaries. City of Lafayette property owners would likely see the steepest rise in taxes since they’re both parish residents (where 12 tax increases will be considered) as well as city residents (where an additional seven tax increases will be considered.)

2016 is a property value reassessment year — they occur every four years like a spendthrift Olympics — and Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux tells us property values are up in Lafayette.

Lafayette Consolidated Government

According to state law, if property tax values rise following a reassessment, the taxing agencies are required to lower millages so that government is collecting the same amount in revenue. However, with the vote of a super-majority on a city council or other governing board, a taxing body can choose to increase the millage up to the previous year’s maximum.

According to a chart accompanying the LCG notice, 19 millages could be adjusted to generate nearly $6.5 million in additional revenue for LCG, which has struggled of late with declining sales tax receipts ushered in by the fall in oil prices. The millages comprise the total number of property taxes controlled by LCG; other governmental bodies such as the assessor and sheriff, Bayou Vermilion District, school board and Downtown Development Authority have separate and sometimes multiple millages that support their separate operations.

On the parish side, roughly $4.4 million would be raised — if two-thirds of the council vote to increase them. With a parish population of approximately 240,000, that comes to about $18.50 per person in additional taxes per year. The seven millages that apply only to the city of Lafayette would raise just over $2 million, or $16.25 per city resident per year. Add the proposed parish taxes — city of Lafayette residents are also parish residents — to the city taxes and each of the city of Lafayette’s 124,000 residents would be on the hook for an additional $34.75.

Obviously, not every person will pay these taxes, only property owners will. But taxes have a way of spreading themselves out — through higher rents, higher prices for goods and services, etc.

The council will consider adjusting millages at a public meeting on Sept. 6. It could vote to raise millages on all 19 under consideration, only some or none at all.

For a handy explainer on how property taxes are calculated and levied, click [this link]( property tax basics booklet 3.pdf) to a page on the Lafayette Parish Assessor’s Office.