Parish budget crisis: Higher taxes best solution?

Here’s a look at today’s forecast. Wochit

At a summit Wednesday to address a looming financial crisis in Lafayette Parish government, the following suggestions were offered by elected officials and board representatives:

  • Ask voters for new property taxes (courts, district attorney operations, parish-wide parks and recreation)
  • Increase existing property taxes
  • Split the courthouse and jail taxes
  • Increase the general alimony tax that does not require voter approval
  • Annex all unincorporated areas
  • Amend the Home Rule Charter that established Lafayette Consolidated Government
  • Allow casinos in the parish
  • Eliminate anything not a necessity, such as parks and recreation
  • Scrutinize state corporate tax incentives that reduce local revenue
  • Enact a parish-wide growth management plan to limit annexations that strip the parish of taxes

Even though moderator and Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille insisted a parish finance summit Wednesday wasn’t about raising taxes, it seemed at the end of the three-hour session to be the likeliest solution to a looming budget crisis.

While most of the elected officials and commissioners attending the summit tiptoed around it, District Attorney Keith Stutes said he would commit “political suicide” by urging the council to ask voters for more property taxes to fund courts and the DA’s office.

At the summit, representatives of municipalities and taxing bodies in Lafayette Parish heard how critical the financial situation is and offered suggestions for addressing the problem.

As municipalities annex businesses from unincorporated areas, Lafayette Parish loses sales tax revenue for the general fund, which for years has been used to supplement revenue shortfalls elsewhere in the parish budget, Councilman Bruce Conque said.

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