Parish council to consider items for voter approval
Members of the St. Mary Parish Council will consider resolutions Wednesday to place four Home Rule Charter amendments as well as a new seven-tenths percent sales tax on the Nov. 4 congressional ballot.
The council approved the amendments by ordinance earlier in the year.
Two of the amendments would increase council member and parish president pay, another would extend parish president term limits from two four-year terms to three terms; and the final amendment would extend council member term limits to three terms in any single member or at-large seat. Current term limits are set at two, but do not restrict council members from serving two terms in either a single-member seat or at-large seat followed by two terms in the other.
Under the compensation amendments, pay for single-member representatives would increase from $450 per month to $750; at-large pay from $800 per month to $1,100; and parish president pay from $12,000 per year to $36,000.
If approved by voters, parish President Paul Naquin has said he and several council members also facing term limits would be able to seek a third term in 2015 elections.
The other resolution on Wednesday’s agenda proposes an election on Nov. 4 to ask voters to approve the levy of a seven-tenths of 1 percent sales tax.
Half of the proceeds would be allocated to the Sheriff’s Office with the remainder split among the parish and its five municipalities based on population, according to parish Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange.
If approved by voters the sales tax rate in the parish would rise from 8 percent to 8.7 percent. In Morgan City the rate would be 9 percent since residents there are levied an additional three-tenths approved by voters in 2011. The latter will expire after 12 years and is dedicated to road repairs. Four percent of both totals are dedicated to the state.
Tabulation of an average of sales taxes collected over the past three years indicates the new tax would generate around $7.2 million per year with the sheriff’s share at $3.6 million and the parish’s at $1.4 million. Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange said the parish and municipal shares would be dedicated to law enforcement, and road and drainage improvements.
Currently, the 4 percent sales tax is allocated as follows:
—One percent shared by school board, parish council, Morgan City, Franklin, Patterson, Berwick and Baldwin.
—Three-fourths of a percent shared by parish council, Morgan City, Franklin, Patterson, Berwick and Baldwin based on percentage of population.
—Half of one-half percent shared by Sheriff’s Office with the other half spread between parish council, Morgan City, Franklin, Patterson, Berwick and Baldwin based on percentage of population.
—Wards 6 and 9, three-tenths percent shared by Recreation District 1 (Amelia) & Recreation District 2 (Siracusaville).
—Wards 5 and 8, three-tenths percent shared by parish council (Wards 5 and 8 unincorporated area), City of Patterson and Town of Berwick based on percentage of population.
—Wards 1,2,3,4,7 and 10, three-tenths percent shared by parish council (Wards 1,2,3,4,7 and 10 unincorporated area), City of Franklin and Town of Baldwin based on percentage of population.
—1.45 percent to the school board.
By comparison, the Louisiana Association of Tax Administrators website indicates that sales tax rates in surrounding cities are 4.5 percent in New Iberia with 2 percent of that going to the school board, 2 percent to the city and one-fourth of a percent each to law enforcement and mosquito control; 4.5 percent in St. Martinville with 2 percent each going to the city and school board and a half of a percent to law enforcement; and 4 percent in the city of Lafayette with 2 percent each going to the city and the school board. The website does not breakdown the parish rate in Terrebone which is 5 percent.
Other items on the agenda include:
—Resolutions on a contract with Professional Construction Services Inc. on the Point Chevreuil Shoreline Protection Project; and the issuance, sale and delivery of up $3.5 million general obligation bonds by Consolidated Gravity Drainage District 2.
—A request by Councilman Charles “Butch” Middleton of Franklin to allocation $40,000 in gaming funds for construction of a basketball court at St. Joseph Park.
The council meets at 6 p.m. on the fifth floor of the courthouse, 501 Main St., in Franklin.