Council cautious on property taxes

Long story short: Property owners’ tax burden will increase but not as much as it could have.

Look at it this way: It could have been worse. The City-Parish Council on Tuesday to roll forward the millage rates on more than a dozen separate property taxes that fund everything from police raises and city street maintenance, public buildings, parish roads and bridges, the juvenile detention center and public health unit. The millage adjustments will generate, according to The Advertiser’s account, about $2 million for the city of Lafayette and $3.7 million for the parish of Lafayette. City of Lafayette residents will bear the brunt of that tax increase because they are also parish residents.

But the council voted against rolling forward the rates for the Airport Commission, parks and recreation, the parish jail and parish library system. (The term “roll forward” is misleading: it simply means to keep the tax rate the same, and it just requires a two-thirds vote of the council to do so. State law requires taxing bodies to reduce property tax rates when property-value assessments increase, as they have by 8.5 percent, according to Assessor Conrad Comeaux, so that the same amount of revenue is generated as the previous year. Rolling them forward, i.e. keeping them at the same level, generates more tax revenue simply because the value of taxable property has risen.)

The council will finalize Mayor Joel Robideaux’s proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins Nov. 1, on Thursday. As a result of the council declining to roll forward some of the millages, it will have to make adjustments to a budget predicated on the millages being rolled forward across the board.

Read more about last night’s council votes here. To watch the council meeting, click here.