20 years later, St. Charles Parish wins tax fight worth millions

A near 20-year dispute over how tax revenue from Louisiana’s two nuclear plants was shared recently ended in St. Charles Parish’s favor.

“This was obviously wrong,” said Tab Troxler, the parish tax assessor who fought for the change. “In 2013, when I entered office, we really had an issue with this.”

On Feb. 8, the Louisiana Tax commission announced the tax dollars from Entergy’s two nuclear plants – Waterford 3 in St. Charles Parish and River Bend in West Feliciana Parish – will go to the parishes where they are located instead of all 60 parishes that have Entergy customers.

Troxler estimated the parish had already lost $140 million in tax revenue in the last 20 years and stood to lose another $60 million over the next 10 years.

With the change, St. Charles Parish will gain $56 million or 4 percent in assessed value to its tax roll.

The parish should see an additional $6 million in revenue per year, which will be spread over the parish’s 21 taxing districts. Troxler said the money will likely start coming in by 2019.

“The people should enjoy the benefit of having the nuclear plant,” he said. “To me, it didn’t fulfill the story of what the people agreed to in order to have the plant, and part of that agreement included the tax benefit.”

Troxler also estimated the change should decrease Entergy’s tax bill by $1 million a year.

“I’m thrilled and excited,” he said. “It was one of the things I wanted to address and I really didn’t know if it could be addressed it has been going on for so long.”

When it did happen, Troxler said one of his first phone calls was to Rock Gisclair, the parish’s former tax assessor, to tell him about the move being reversed.

It was a change that proved challenging until the state Legislative Auditor’s 2017 report on public service properties (utilities) disagreed with how the Tax Commission was valuing this property, he said.

“When something is built in that parish it gets the full value … the only exception in the entire state was those two nuclear plants,” Troxler said. “There was no law anywhere where that was allowable, but that has been going on for 20 years.”

Based on the auditor report, Troxler approached Gov. John Bel Edwards, who offered his assistance and the Tax Commission corrected the issue. He also expressed gratitude for support from the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and others including parish presidents for supporting the move.

“Every sheriff and school board with a property tax lost money,” Troxler said. “Every taxing district in Louisiana with an Entergy asset lost money, but they all agreed, ‘What’s fair is fair.’”

 

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