ST. FRANCISVILLE — The West Feliciana Parish Police Jury, in a series of votes Monday, turned down opportunities to increase three property taxes to take advantage of higher assessments this year.
The Police Jury revisited its property taxes because assessors across Louisiana were required this year to reassess property values.
The Police Jury had an opportunity to pick up about $135,000 in extra revenue because assessments increased, which Juror Mel Percy called a significant tax increase.
Ken Carter, a former city assessor in New Orleans who owns property in The Bluffs on Thompson Creek, argued against setting the millages at last year’s level, or “rolling forward,” arguing that property owners who pay the taxes do not know whether the taxing bodies actually need more money.
Jurors agreed to “roll back” six different millages from a total of 18.46 mills to 16.69 mills, which would generate the same amount of revenue as last year, before property tax assessments increased.
Three other millages, 0.10 mills for social services, 1.5 mills for library operations and 1.15 mills for library construction bonds, were not affected by this year’s property reassessments. Voters approved the library taxes earlier this year.
But Carter and other property owners, some of them in The Bluffs, opposed rolling forward to the original rates for taxes affected by reassessment.
“When you roll forward, you’re putting a tax increase on the parish as a whole,” said Carter, who formerly set property values in a section of New Orleans.
“We’re saying don’t roll forward if you can’t show us you need it,” Carter said.
Becky Hilliard, a parish gas district employee, also argued against taking advantage of the reassessment windfall, reminding jurors that they increased their salaries upon taking office in January.
After lengthy discussions, jurors voted to roll forward the jury’s improvements and economic development taxes, but rejected bids to roll forward with the general fund, hospital and health unit taxes.
Other topics before the jury included:
BOAT LANDING: Jurors voted to name the new boat landing built at the old Mississippi River ferry landing for the late Philip Morris Bennett Sr. Bennett was captain of the ferry from 1935, when it was privately operated, until his retirement from the state Department of Transportation and Development in 1968.
ANIMAL SHELTER: The jury accepted a cooperative endeavor agreement with Sheriff J. Austin Daniel for the operation of an animal shelter staffed by sheriff’s deputies. The arrangement costs the jury about $2,200 per month.
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