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In the News

PILOT bill killed by Senate Revenue committee

By Cyndi Sellers

Senate Bill 294, which would have authorized a Constitutional amendment to allow local governments to negotiate stipulated tax payments with new industries, failed to move out of the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee on Monday. The committee voted 6-1 against the bill, effectively killing the effort for this legislative session.

Cameron Parish Administrator Ryan Bourriaque, School Superintendent Charles Adkins, and School Board President Sheila Miller spoke in favor of the bill, saying Cameron Parish needs to be able to receive revenue sooner than the 10 year Industrial Tax exemption Program allows. Many business organizations, companies, and economic development groups signed cards in support.

The state of Louisiana has granted the ITEP exemptions, without consulting local governments, as a means of attracting economic development to the state. But in a parish like Cameron that has no local sales tax, the increased infrastructure and public safety needs resulting from major construction projects like Cheniere and Cameron LNG are causing a strain on local resources, Bourriaque said.

Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales, the only senator to vote for the bill, noted that during the time of the exemption, while Cameron gets nothing, the facility experiences depreciation and is worth less by the time taxes are finally levied. He said at least the bill would allow parishes to get something during the ten years of the existing exemptions.

Committee Chairman Sen. J. P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, suggested the parish is being subsidized by the state for the cost of the inventory tax and offshore vessel taxes it collects, which industries get back from the state. He said if the parish wants to be more autonomous it should consider giving up these taxes.

The bill was opposed by a large number of parish assessors and Edgar Cage of Together Louisiana. Jeff Gordon, East Feliciana Assessor said if companies are allowed to negotiate their tax rate it would take away the relevance of the millage rates and assessed value, violating the constitutional uniformity rule of taxation. He also said this particular bill would allow any manufacturing, industrial or commercial entity to negotiate a tax payment, which is everyone except homeowners.

Cage said under current law any parish can enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with a company for advance payment of taxes, but they can’t change the structure of the tax system. “This is not the way to solve income problems in parishes.”

Bobby Edmiston, Bossier Parish Assessor, said the constitutional amendment seemed to be designed to “fix Cameron Parish’s problem.”

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