Ships moving through channels and passes of Port Fourchon are becoming increasingly important to Lafourche Parish’s tax collections.
Watercraft made up a third of Lafourche Parish’s property tax base for 2011.
Those watercraft are primarily vessels that service and supply the offshore oil industry.
Lafourche Parish Tax Assessor Mike Martin said tax figures are not available for 2012 but are expected to be about the same.
Following the most recent reassessment, Lafourche Parish had just under $750 million in taxable property. Of that, just under $250 million was industrial watercraft.
While the oil servicing companies that own these vessels pay taxes to the parish, it should be noted they receive an offsetting dollar-for-dollar tax credit on state income tax, Martin said.
Watercraft is unique among taxable property for a few reasons. It is movable and includes just more than 900 vessels as compared with real estate, which includes thousands of buildings throughout the parish, according to statistics provided by Wendy Thibodeaux, Lafourche’s chief deputy assessor.
To illustrate the value, Martin said losing one of the parish’s massive offshore service boats, which can bring in around $400,000 annually in taxes, is the same as losing the taxable value of 200 homes valued at $250,000.
Neighboring Terrebonne Parish’s tax roll is more diverse with only 2 percent of taxable property classified as watercraft.
“Ours was less (than Lafourche). We had about $16 million assessed value,” said Loney Grabert, Terrebonne’s tax assessor. “We don’t have a deep-water port here.”