Wednesday, May 8, 2013

JP Officials Point Fingers Over Failed Tax "Renewals"

The Jefferson Parish Council has called an emergency meeting for Thursday at 10am to discuss the future of two property taxes that were defeated by voters on Saturday.

The taxes would have renewed revenue for another 10 years to fund Water and Sewerage operations and projects.
As is usually the case in Jefferson Parish when there is a controversy in government it’s another case of “He Said/He Said”. Only this time it’s “He Said/They Said”.

Jefferson Parish President John Young contends that, even though the renewals were listed on the ballot at the pre-roll back rates of 5 mills, the taxes would have actually renewed at 3.54 mills for water and 3.58 mills for sewerage.
JP Council Chairman Chris Roberts, Sheriff Newell Normand and Assessor Tom Capella all say that the taxes would have increased to 5 mills generating more revenue for the parish.

They also contend that the taxes also expired on December 31st, 2012.
Other JP officials have complained that the Young Administration did not do enough to educate the public on the taxes.

Despite the fact that the taxes and their language was submitted to the state months ago for placement on the May 4th ballot, Assessor Capella mailed a letter to homeowners last week saying that the renewals would actually be tax increases.
And that may be, if the Parish Council doesn’t roll the tax back as they have done traditionally.

On Tuesday, three days after the taxes failed, Capella also disclosed that the taxes had already expired.
Sheriff Normand was even more critical of the Young Administration.

“I don’t know if there’s any basis in law to declare ‘I’m incompetent and I messed up the tax issue, so give me another bite at the apple.’ In my 36 years of government work, this is the first time I’m aware of that a tax renewal was done after the tax expired.”

But, the question remains, where were Roberts, Normand and Capella when the JP Council voted to put these taxes on the ballot? Didn’t they know that the taxes had expired or that the public could perceive these “renewals” as “renewals at the old rate”?
If they expired last year, why didn’t Roberts, Normand and Capella get the taxes on the ballot a year ago? They were all in their same roles last year, right?
Is it plausible to believe that Sheriff Normand, the chief Tax Collector for Jefferson Parish, Assessor Capella and Councilman Roberts were all unaware that these taxes expired or did the Young Administration just botch the tax “renewals”? How could no Jefferson Parish elected official speak up in the months leading up to the vote and say that there were issues? Were these even “renewals” at all?
Regardless of whether you believe Him (Young) or Them (Roberts, Normand, Capella), there is enough blame on this to spread around.

For the moment though, it’s just typical Jefferson Parish politics where our elected officials point fingers at each other.
Finger pointing wasn’t productive in 4th Grade and it’s not very productive now.

Somebody should tell our elected officials that.

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