Levees, inventory tax top parish funding concerns

Parish lobbyist expects smooth transition in Trump administration

As President-elect Donald Trump closes in on his official inauguration, former U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin believes Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office has the potential to be beneficial for both St. Charles Parish and the state, noting there should be plenty of opportunity to get things done in the coming years.

Tauzin is the head of the lobbyist group Tauzin Consultants, which was hired by St. Charles Parish to lobby both on the state level and at Washington.  He believes Trump’s presidency will prove beneficial in a number of ways locally, including in efforts to accelerate the process of finishing the parish’s levee construction project, which he believes is the most important issue to tackle over the coming weeks.

“Our state is 90-percent Republican, so obviously having the White House in a Republican’s hands is beneficial (to the state’s interests),” Tauzin said. “A lot of colleagues and friends of ours (have been appointed by Trump), people we’ve worked with and know well. It’s a better opportunity for our delegates to improve affairs dramatically.”

Tauzin did admit that there is a lot that remains to be seen with Trump, but said he’s optimistic overall.

“We’ve never seen the president at work,” Tauzin said. “Weknow his campaign, but not in action. He’s made some very good appointments … (Department of Energy head) Rick Perry, for one, is a close friend of mine. We go back a long time. (Congressman) Garret Graves will be able to pursue (the state’s interests) much better. And (House of Representatives Majority Whip) Steve Scalise being in leadership in the House … that will be so important.

“Between (Sen. Bill) Cassidy and (Sen. John) Kennedy, we’ll have an excellent opportunity to not only get things done at the House level, but also a lot done in the Senate because of our connections there. I think it’ll be very positive.”

The most important local issue that must be sorted out, Tauzin believes, comes in regards to the levee project and finding a way to get that completed.

“Getting this straightened out with the Corps of Engineers has to be the biggest priority,” Tauzin said. “We have to speed that process up and get protection for our levees. I think we’re in a good position (with the people in place) to push that along, now.”

It’s an issue Parish President Larry Cochran pointed to directly when Tauzin was hired.

“CPRA [Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority) has money and we need it,” said Cochran of seeking levee construction funding.

That issue accompanies St. Charles residents’ for lower flood insurance rates.

“That’s a double-edged sword, because if we can’t build the levees, insurance rates are going to go up,” Tauzin said, adding he’s working on a plan that he believes could make things easier on that end.

The inventory tax has been another major issue arising within the past year, creating a tighter budget for parish agencies after a downturn in oil prices caused a decline in the assessment of property value parish wide, forcing adjustments in the tax, which is a major source of funding revenue.

That, Tauzin said, is an issue that must be tackled on the state level.

“There have been changes there and I feel good about our ability to work with those making these decisions on the state level,” he said. “And anyone familiar with me knows I won’t miss an opportunity to make friends across the aisle. I’ve already let Gov. (John Bel) Edwards I’m anxious to be helpful in any way I can.”

Tauzin said another positive is Trump’s determination to expand and improve on the state’s energy policies, noting Louisiana is an energy-producing state and many jobs rely on it.

“It’s all good news for the petrochemical industry,” Tauzin said.

“It’s all about flood protection,” he added.  “It’s about people raising their families and having a good job in order to do so. The energy side of things comes into play there. We’re working with the state to protect the parish.”

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