St. John Council votes to waive sales taxes when state does same

Published 11:45 pm Friday, June 29, 2012



LAPLACE – Annual statewide sales tax exemptions for purchases of assorted hurricane and school supplies will now also include the exemption of the parish council’s portion of local taxes in St. John the Baptist Parish.

The St. John Parish Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that will allow for the waiving of the parish’s 2.25-cent sales tax on approved items purchased during periods of state sales tax holidays. The measure, proposed by Councilwoman Cheryl Millet, specifically applies to events where hurricane and school supplies are exempt from the state’s 4 percent sales tax.

The council had been interested in waiving its share of parish taxes earlier this year during the tax holiday on hurricane supplies in May. The move was blocked because any change in tax collection must be approved by an ordinance since the taxes are enforced through an ordinance.

The remainder of the 8.75 percent sales tax collected in the parish is levied by the Sheriff’s Office and School Board and will still be applied to all purchases during those tax holidays. Parish President Natalie Robottom said the amount of tax revenue that would be lost as a result of the exemption is insignificant.

“Some of our small businesses may have to make some adjustments to their registers, but it will help out our shoppers,” Robottom said.

In other action, the council paid tribute to two residents by approving measures to put their names on a street and a swimming pool. The council added the name of civic volunteer Emma Cook to NW 13th Street in Reserve. Councilman Ranney Wilson proposed the measure.

“Everyone back in that community knew her,” Wilson said. “She had a deep involvement in everything.”

The council also renamed the Regala Park swimming pool in honor of Alex Roland Reese, who died swimming in the pool shortly before it officially opened in 1978. Councilman Larry Snyder, who proposed the ordinance along with Wilson, said Reese, 21, broke his neck after diving into the pool.

“There was always this high level of eagerness among African-Americans at that time to have a pool where we were welcome to swim,” Snyder said. “By renaming it in his honor, we can use this as a teaching moment to explain how easily accidents can happen at a pool.”

Robottom said the name change also serves as an opportunity that brings awareness of pool rules and could help promote stronger swimming programs.

“There is a reason for lifeguards and a reason for fences,” Robottom said.  

The council also approved a contract on behalf of the Port of South Louisiana for engineering services involved with the construction of an automated weather observation tower at St. John Airport. The $17,300 contract, with Professional Engineering Services, will be paid out by the port. Professional Engineering is under contract through May 2014 for engineering services at the airport.

Finally, the council voted to renew its workers’ compensation insurance program with LWCC through Riverlands Insurance Co. instead of approving a new proposal from LUBA Workers’ Compensation through Dave Millet Insurance Agency that would have saved the parish about $126,000. The council voted 8-0 in favor of renewal, with Millet abstaining.