New Roads disputes Police Jury road tax move

The City Council approved a resolution asking the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury to overturn a resolution jurors recently adopted seeking to raise the amount of taxes New Roads residents pay
for street and road improvements.

The council’s action came during its Tuesday night meeting at the request of Mayor Robert Myer, who called the Police Jury’s resolution hiking the parish road tax in the city, “unconstitutional.”

“Before you can tax the citizens, you need to do everything possible to manage your own house before you ask for additional revenue,” Myer told council members.

The Police Jury voted April 23 to levy a 3.42-mill tax on people living in the city of New Roads and town of Livonia after Jury President Melanie Bueche said residents in both municipalities had gotten a 17-year tax break due to an oversight in the implementation of a parish road tax voters approved in 1997.

According to the Police Jury resolution, special road tax revenue is to be spent on bridge and road repair.

But for 17 years, New Roads and Livonia households paid 1.71 mills in road taxes annually, half the 3.42 mills everyone else in the parish paid. Taxpayers in New Roads and Livonia were exempt from paying the full amount because the two municipalities had populations in excess of 1,000 and both maintained their own street-paving programs.

Police jurors asserted they were justified in finally levying the full 3.42-mill road tax in New Roads and Livonia as a result of the April 23 vote because the parish government had spent millions of dollars on roadwork in both municipalities.

Mayor Myer told the council Tuesday night New Roads not only has its own street-paving program, but it plans to spend more than $2 million on road projects planned this year.

Myer noted in a prepared statement that while parish government had spent $2.3 million on road improvements and maintenance in New Roads since the road tax went into effect in 1997, New Roads residents, meanwhile, had been paying about $563,000 annually into the road tax fund.

“Ms. Bueche sent a letter to (jurors) today stating that she wished that the jury would not have spent any money within the city,” Myer read. “This is indeed disappointing, given the fact that 39 percent of the road tax is collected from within the city limits.”

Councilman Kurt Kellerman cast the only vote against the City Council’s resolution disputing the Police Jury’s action in imposing the full road tax amount on city taxpayers.

Kellerman called the matter a “big issue” and said he wanted more information before he could vote on the issue.

Councilman Kirk White agreed with Kellerman, but said: “I want them to explain why they think this is the right thing to do. But I want it clear my position is: I don’t like it.”

Police Juror Albert Dukes, who attended the City Council’s meeting, said he sympathized with New Roads and supports the City Council’s position on the issue.

“Maybe rescinding it might be the way to do it,” Dukes said from the audience. “I think these are hard times for everyone and everyone is looking for money. I’m just not sure this is the right place to be looking.”