Boe: Local government ruin, reduced flood protection feared

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, April 22, 2015

With the advancement of SB85 in the State Legislature, the bill’s author and Governor Jindal are no better than Washington as they fix a political problem on the backs of a lower level of government.

By repealing the inventory tax to solve a one-year budget crisis, the Governor and Senator Adley are removing 120 years of local revenue without a single thought about the impacts at the local level.

Some have said the inventory tax is an unnecessary tax. Inventory taxes pay for vital emergency response services needed to handle large and hazardous industries, schools, hospitals, sheriff’s deputies and bonds to pay for most of the capital projects the public enjoys in our communities.

In addition, most levee districts are funded solely by local property taxes so this bill will essentially halt many flood protection projects in the areas that need it most.

I am not a proponent of taxes; but, we must look deeper than just the money collected on inventory and look at what is lost by local governments by being host to these large industries.

Typically, a large industry (that would pay inventory taxes for storing millions of gallons or barrels of hazardous chemicals and supplies) is required to purchase a buffer zone around their facility. A sound idea from a public safety view but in an economic development and potential tax revenue view, that buffer zone is now off limits to future residential and commercial development which means no sales or property taxes will ever get paid within that zone.

So the inventory taxes help to fill that lost tax revenue potential and pay for vital services at the same time.

Senator Adley’s bill, SB85, also removes the local government’s authority to adjust property tax millages in order to maintain current revenue or, at the very least, pay off existing bonds and avoid a domino of local government defaults that would send a loud message to the nation that Louisiana can’t pay its bills.

Over 30 parishes receive inventory taxes greater than 10 percent of their property tax revenue.

Several parishes collect upwards of 20-43 percent of their taxes from inventory. Imagine having to pay your house loan if you lost 30 percent of your income overnight and were prevented from getting another job (which is what Adley’s bill has done).

This is an easy vote for the Legislature because their vote today isn’t being tied to lost jobs and decreased services because that will fall on the local leaders next year as property taxes crash and services and people have to be cut in order to balance budgets and pay bonds.

It’s estimated that nearly 2,700 local teachers could lose their jobs. How many sheriff’s deputies will get a pink slip? Water and wastewater workers? Nurses at local hospitals? How many levee projects will have to be canceled or delayed?

This removal of a 120 year old local government revenue source won’t even fix the state’s budget problem forever. It will simply let the legislature be able to walk away saying “we balanced this year’s budget;” but, what they won’t say is that they just unbalanced every local, school, fire, hospital, levee, and sheriff’s budgets in 30 parishes.

A YES vote is a false promise of a balanced budget and a vote to shove a multi-year failure to manage state finances onto the back of the local governments, services, and residents.

A YES vote will darken classrooms, stop police patrols, increase local emergency room wait times, trigger local government defaults, and halt levee projects throughout the state.

Is this the best Louisiana can do?

Buddy Boe is a resident of LaPlace and chief administrative officer for St. Charles Parish Government. Email him at