Council moves to keep tax collection local

The Tangipahoa Parish Council voted unanimously Monday to hire a lawyer to draft an ordinance designed to prevent any state agency from becoming the official tax collector for the parish.

Parish President Gordon Burgess said he learned at a recent regional meeting of parish and police jury presidents that policy makers in Baton Rouge, whom he did not name, were exploring the idea of the state becoming the tax collector for all parishes, municipalities and other taxing entities.

“I certainly did not like what I was hearing at the meeting I attended and we need to be prepared just in case something does happen on this,” Burgess said, adding that he prefers to keep parish tax receipts “at home.”

Council President Carlo Bruno, who said he studied the tax collection matter, said he thinks the state is seeking to collect tax money, especially sales tax receipts, so that it could gain interest on the funds. Bruno said that if Louisiana held all local taxes collected, it “could reap millions of dollars in interest alone.”

The council agreed to hire attorney Duncan Kemp to study the ramifications of the state becoming the parish’s tax collector and draft an ordinance forestalling any such move. The council will consider adopting the ordinance at its next meet scheduled for Dec. 10.

Other items discussed during the meeting included:

JOBS PROGRAM: The council unanimously approved an application from Innerfuse ID Welding, LLC for participation in the state’s Quality Jobs Program. Stacey Neal, community developer for the Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation, Inc., said Innerfuse plans to invest $2.5 million in a Hammond plant.

The company, which welds and coats pipe, will create about 40 new high-paying jobs, Neal said. The company is working with staff at Northshore Community College to train welders, she said, and plans to open its plant in 2013. Firms approved for the jobs program receive tax breaks on their investment.

COUNCIL COVERAGE: Charter Communications, which holds the parish franchise for television cable service, will be asked to pay about $92,000 to purchase equipment used to broadcast parish council meetings. Charter’s contract with the council allows for a very small fee on customers to cover the broadcast costs.