St. James pushes to keep inventory tax

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2012

By David Vitrano


VACHERIE – The state is pushing to eliminate the inventory tax portion of property assessments, but St. James Parish is pushing back, asking the council for a resolution in support of keeping the taxes at the regular meeting council Wednesday.

According to parish Finance Director Chantal Waguespack, the inventory portion of the assessments represents $200 million, or 41 percent, of the parish’s total assessed valuation of $489 million.

“We can’t afford to lose that,” said Parish President Timmy Roussel.

Although the state claims the tax is revenue neutral because assessed businesses and industry get the money back through refunds of tax breaks, Waguespack said for local governments that is not the case because the tax revenue stays in the parish while the state handles reimbursing taxpayers.

The public hearing also addressed the 2013 budget, but another public hearing will be held on the east bank Monday before the council can make a decision on it. A special meeting has been called for 5:30 p.m. at the courthouse in Convent to address the 2013 budget.

Also Wednesday, the council approved the revised 2012 budget. A public hearing on the revised budget preceded the meeting, but no concerns were voiced at that time.

The council also OK’d a resolution authorizing the parish to seek land on which to locate a new solid waste collection site. This became necessary because the parish recently switched waste collection companies, so it can no longer use the collection site it shared with Waste Management of South Louisiana. The parish will seek a parcel of land along Louisiana Highway 3125, if possible, according to Operations Director Jody Chenier. The site will require a minimum of two acres.

Also approved Wednesday was a resolution allowing the parish to enter into an agreement with the Town of Lutcher for construction of a wetlands assimilation sewage treatment plant. According to Roussel, a wetlands assimilation sewage treatment plant treats the sewage in an oxidation pond so it can be released into surrounding wetlands. The treated waste is nutrient rich and helps the swampland to grow. Roussel said treating sewage in this way opens the door to federal assistance in the pond’s construction.

Lastly, Roussel asked the council members to remind constituents of the NACO Prescription Drug Discount Card Program. He noted that since January 2012, the card has provided users with an average savings of at least 60 percent on prescription medications, but fewer than 10 people have used the program each month since March.

“I think some of our residents may have forgotten about it,” said Roussel.