Flood protection for Montz highlights state bills aimed at St. Charles

April 25, 2014 at 11:51 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Flood protection for Montz highlights state bills aimed at St. Charles
Several legislative items are on the horizon for St. Charles Parish as the 2014 legislative session reaches its halfway point.

All bills under consideration have until 6 p.m. on June 2 to be passed.

Flood protection for Montz

Included in pending legislation is SB 609, sponsored by Sen. Jody Amedee, which would change the way money is allocated for levee construction and maintenance undertaken by the levee districts.

Rep. Greg Miller said that would apply to the plans underway to provide a levee alignment covering the west shore of Lake Pontchartrain from Montz through Ascension Parish.

“That would then take money from the Pontchartrain Levee District and then require a portion of the monies collected in Ascension to be used solely in Ascension Parish, which I think is a horrible idea especially when we are trying to get the west shore levee,” Miller said.  

The bill appears to be stalled in the Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee and Miller said he has received assurances that it will not go forward.

“I think this is a distraction from the entire east bank,” he said. “We have been assured by Sen. Amedee that he is not planning on moving that bill. It is getting late and it is not evened scheduled.”  

Ad Valorem tax change

Also being considered is a change in how ad valorem taxes on industry are assessed. Ad valorem taxes are a property tax levied not only on real estate and buildings, but also on movable property, such as a barrels of oil produced and stored at local refineries.    

The bill, SB 567, currently being proposed by Sen. Gary Smith, would move the date back from July 1 to Sept. 1 each year when those tax rates are assessed.

Smith said most industry in the parish already request and are granted a delay in ad valorem tax assessment and the change in the law would follow that.  

“It’s really not changing anything. It is really just putting into the code the practice they are already using,” he said.

Rep. Greg Miller said St. Charles Parish Assessor Tab Troxler requested the bill be put forth with the hope that it would decrease the potential for industry to artificially lower their tax burden.  

“He believes there is a possible issue dealing with the way property is assessed an the tax roles and the dates. It is kind of technical stuff.,” Miller said. “He believes that it would prevent some very remote possibility of someone trying to challenge their assessment.”  

Miller said while St. Charles Parish would be the only parish in the state to have a later assessment, he believes the practice will spread if the bill is passed.

“I think if they see there are no problems with it in St. Charles Parish, other parishes would get on board,” he said. The bill has passed the State Senate and does not appear to have any opposition heading into the House.

Regional economic development board

Another piece of legislation currently being scrutinized is a regional economic board that would include representatives from St. Charles, St. John, St. James, Ascension and Iberville parishes.

The bill, SB 550, sponsored by Sen. Troy Brown, would create the Southeast Louisiana Authority for Growth and Opportunity.

The authority would be composed of two members from each parish who would serve four-year terms and have to be confirmed by the State Senate.

The purpose of such a board would be “to promote, stimulate, develop, and enhance business prosperity and economic welfare of the region.”

The board would have the ability to raise revenue via bond initiatives, borrow money and provide financial assistance to other political subdivisions with the aim of increasing investment in the region.

Miller said he sees the economic board as a duplication of existing services and that he and other local representatives are taking a stance against the bill.

“Is it counteracting efforts we already have in economic development,” he said. “To me it seems like it is going to be introducing an additional level of bureaucracy, which I am not in favor of.”

Miller said given that the River Region Chamber of Commerce has expressed reservations about the legislation, and there has been a drive to dismantle such boards in recent years, the prospects of the bill succeeding and the regional authority being created are minimal.

“Rep. Clay Schexnayder has voted to eliminate a lot of these boards that have been created over the years. A lot of them don’t even do anything,” he said.  

St. Charles Parish teachers to be commended

Other action by the legislature includes a resolution by Smith to recognize 2013 Louisiana Teacher of the Year La’Keisha McKinney and 2013 Prinicpal of the Year AJ Pethe, who  are both employed at St. Charles Parish Public Schools.

“We’re hoping to have them coming up to be able to recognize them,”  Miller, who co-sponsored the resolution, said. “To me it is a great credit to those individuals, but it also a credit to St Charles Parish schools and how well of a job they have been doing.”

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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