LPPJ votes in favor of library millage election; opposes House Bill 199 as currently written

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury held a socially-distanced monthly meeting Tuesday night at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center. (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT)

By T. Scott Boatright

It didn’t take long for the Lincoln Parish Police Jury to adopt a resolution calling for an Oct. 9 election for voters to decide on a continued library tax of 4.49 mills for 10 years.

But deciding on a take action on adopting a resolution opposing state centralized sales tax collection took significantly more discussion.

In the end the LPPJ voted in favor of adopting a resolution opposing House Bill 199, at least in the “in its current form as of today.”

District 8 Police Juror Skip Russell expressed his concerns over the current way House Bill 199 is currently written. The House Ways and Means Committee earlier Tuesday voted 14-1 for House Bill 199, its first of likely two committee reviews before a full House debate.

In order to pass legislation would require two-thirds support from the House and Senate and backing from voters in a statewide election.

And if the constitutional amendment is approved, lawmakers still also have to work out implementation details before the centralization could start..

Louisiana sales taxes are currently collected by school boards of each parish, making Louisiana only one of three states in the country that does not have a centralized sales tax collection system along with Colorado and Hawaii.

“I am not opposed to central tax collection for those large companies not having an operating presence within the state of Louisiana,” Russell said. “I simply am opposed to House Bill 199 because it does not make our point clear and we have so many questions I’d like to be clarified before being approved.”

LPPJ President Richard Durrett, who represents District 3, also admitted having concerns over the way House Bill 199 is currently written and told fellow jurors that any amendment or change to the bill could change the LPPJ’s stance toward opposing it.

“We’re considering a resolution based on what’s been introduced, not what might be introduced,” Durrett said. “If something else goes in it, we can reconsider. But they’re moving this fast. May 5 (the next LPPJ meeting date) is going to be too late. So all we have to look at is this House Bill 199 and whether we support it or not support it.”

Russell admitted remittance timing was another concern he had about the idea of state centralized sales tax collection.

“Another point you need to consider is that when this money (sales tax collections) goes to those folks in Baton Rouge, how quickly then are we going to get it remitted to us?,” Russell asked.

As far as the library millage, the Lincoln Parish Library’s request to renew its previous millage rate of 5.85 during an election held last December was turned down by voters. The previous millage rate of 5.99 was renewed by parish voters for 10 years in 2010.

The LPPJ also held a public hearing to obtain feedback on the housing and community development needs of the parish and to discuss submitting an application for funding under the state fiscal year 2022/23 from the Community Development Block Grant Program.

Tommy Magee, a grants consultant for Frye Magee LLC, explained potential options to jurors for spending any potential grant and recommended the LPPJ to request funding for sewer system work during its May meeting.

In another move long requested by many parish residents, adopted a resolution requesting the state Department of Transportation and Development to consider doing a traffic study at the intersection of Tarbutton Road and La. Hwy. 150, more commonly called “Old Grambling Road.”

Once submitted to the DOTD, acting on that resolution is up to the DOTD, which governs state roads and makes the decision on whether or not to act on such a request.

The LPPJ also approved a cooperative endeavor agreement with 4 Paws.

“This is just a matter of housekeeping,” said parish administrator Doug Postel of the CEA with 4 Paws. “This is the same CEA we’ve had with 4 Paws for many years. This did not get signed at the beginning of the year when we approved our agreement with them so this is just ratifying our agreement we have with them through the end of the year.”

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