SADOW: Bossier Voters Must Reject Property Tax Hike

Bossier Parish is trying to do what Bossier City did. Parish voters should turn it down.

The parish’s electorate is being asked to renew, with a rate increase, the 10-year property tax dedicated to funding correctional activities that expires at the end of 2021. This funds the substance abuse/reentry, medium security, and maximum security facilities operated by the parish sheriff.

Originally, voters authorized 3.00 mills for the task, which baseline should raise a bit over $3 million annually for operation. Because of the vagaries of the state’s required quadrennial reassessment – before this year’s last occurring at a time when property values had decreased – the maximum allowed levy rose to 3.14, although most recently taxpayers were hit up for 3.08.

However, for the next decade-long tranche, the parish asks for 3.02. This emulated Bossier City, which recently had a renewal go through at 6.19, the rate city owners had been paying, but with the previous renewal at only 6.00, even though it presented no real demonstrated need for the hike to voters.

Certainly, the parish’s tax hike attempt is much less an affront to taxpayers. It’s not asking to stay at the maximum allowed nor even at the most recent rate, but at one lower and barely above the expiring authorized millage. It would raise taxes past the previously approved rate collectively just over $20,000 annually. Still, voters should reject it for the same reason – no demonstrable need.

In 2019, the parish fell short about $85,000 (at the higher level) from revenues explicitly to fund corrections over its attached costs. However, the fund set aside for this purpose had over $4.6 million in reserves. Further, the parish’s general funds – which can transfer money to other funds if needed – contained over $6.4 million.

Additionally, property taxes collected should advance at a brisk pace as a result of reassessment and predicted higher property values. The online real estate site Zillow predicts a 7 percent increase in parish residential values just in 2021 alone, so any new properties built and existing ones sold will contribute to higher revenues dedicated towards corrections.

Obviously, the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic will have a small negative impact on parish revenues overall for 2020. But that one-year aberration doesn’t set the tone for the remainder of the decade. With all of this money banked and rosy real estate projections out there, the parish hasn’t made a case to raise the authorized tax rate on its citizens. It can always come back in the latter part of 2021 with a renewal at 3.00 mills.

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