Council to vote on property taxes, utility-rate hike Tuesday

by Walter Pierce

Twenty property taxes are before the council along with a proposed hike in electric, water and wastewater rates.

Debate is expected to be energetic and protracted Tuesday when the City-Parish Council discusses and debates — and votes on — rolling forward 20 property taxes paid parishwide and within the city of Lafayette for a host of public agencies and functions including the Airport Commission, Lafayette Economic Development Authority, road repairs, the library system and police pay.

State law requires a taxing authority like the council to roll back tax rates when property values rise so that no more taxes are being brought in than the prior year. However, with a two-thirds vote by the council, those rates can be rolled forward to their current rates to generate more revenue on increased property values. Assessor Conrad Comeaux has already indicated that property values are up in the parish — Comeaux has confirmed that his office will need to reassess flood-damaged property through Lafayette Parish — so any roll-forwards of rates will generate more tax revenue.

The council will also vote on a requested rate hike for Lafayette Utilities System customers. LUS Director Terry Huval is proposing a 9 percent increase spread out over three years.

According to LCG documents related to the proposed hike, an average monthly LUS bill of $145.61 for electric, water and wastewater service would jump to $150.03 in November, rise to $156.55 in November of next year and increase to $159.05 by November of 2018.

Huval cites a five-year, $232 million capital plan for the utility system that includes new electric-generating facilities, improvements to the South Wastewater Treatment Plant and upgrades to the Northeast Substation in justifying the rate hikes.

LUS customers last saw their rates hike in 2010.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the council auditorium at City Hall.