LAFAYETTE — The City-Parish Council is scheduled to vote Aug. 21 on whether to keep several property taxes at their current levels to bring in more revenue as property values rise.
Property values are estimated to be up with this year’s reassessment, and public agencies are required under state law to reduce tax rates so that tax revenue stays at the same level that it was before the higher reassessment.
But local government also has the option of “rolling forward” property tax rates, keeping them at their old level and bringing in more revenue because the old tax rate is applied to higher property values.
The council, with no discussion of the issue, introduced a measure on Tuesday to roll forward the taxes, setting a final vote for Aug. 21.
Applying the current property tax rates to higher property values would bring in an estimated $3 million more in annual revenue for Lafayette city and parish services, including tax revenue dedicated to drainage, roads, the police and fire departments, the parish jail, the courthouse and the library system.
“It is critical that we take this opportunity to adjust these dedicated revenues to the rates originally approved by voters because of the current growth in demands for our services,” City-Parish Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups wrote in a memo to council members.
Toups wrote that many of the property taxes, even at current levels, do not generate enough revenue to fully fund the services those taxes are meant to support.
The move comes as property values in the parish have gone up an up an average of 2½ percent in this year’s reassessment, Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux said in an interview last month.
It’s difficult to determine how keeping taxes at current rates would affect individual taxpayers because not all property values went up across the board, with some going down and some staying the same despite the overall average increase.
The only resident to address the council on the issue was Dale Brasseaux, who asked council members to consider letting tax rates fall this year and working with existing revenues.
“I want you to understand that people are set on fixed incomes,” he said. “... I think we have heard this time and time again: operate with what you’ve got.”
In other business, the council moved forward a proposal for new development regulations in rural areas of Lafayette Parish.
There are now only limited guidelines in the unincorporated areas of the parish for what can be built and where.
A final vote on the regulations is scheduled for Aug. 28.
The proposed land-use regulations do not prohibit any particular development but require increasing buffer space, greenbelts planted with trees and fencing based on how objectionable a new development might be to existing businesses and homes in the area.
The new guidelines would apply to most commercial developments and industrial operations, but residential developments would not be affected.