News, Sports and Entertainment for St. Martin Parish, La.

Breaux Bridge seeks change in how tax money is spent

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Karl Jeter

At the April 12 City Council meeting, resolutions and ordinances were introduced pertaining to the use of special tax district funds.
Under state law, such proposals for these special tax funds face certain restrictions. Requirements of the intergovernmental agreement stipulate that any changes involve amending the city’s Master Plan for the Development of Infrastructure. This requires two public hearings and a two-thirds affirmative vote of the council.
One proposal seeks to make a change to the permitted usage of the tax funds. Currently, the city is required to use 80 percent of the funds for the construction or major improvements to infrastructure. The remaining 20 percent is available for maintenance of existing infrastructure.
The city is seeking to change that ratio to 50/50, which, Mayor Ricky Calais said, would make $85,000 to $87,000 per month available for use at the city’s discretion. With regular sales tax revenues down significantly, he said, the move is needed to keep maintenance on schedule. The 80/20 restriction would be restored after 36 months.
Plans were previously in the works to propose an increase in the city’s regular sales tax from one cent to two cents. That plan was put on hold when the state imposed an emergency sales tax increase, which will sunset 27 months after its adoption on April 1, 2016. The city plans to seek the penny increase after that time.
Other proposals would amend the Master Plan to add the planned Hollier Road water system extension. This and five other improvement projects are to be funded by special tax district funds that have already been collected. Up to 80 percent of funds remaining after current Master Plan projects are complete will be allocated to the new projects.
These projects include sidewalk extensions on Martin and Refinery Streets, improvements to Veteran’s Park and Carl Williams Park and the creation of and improvements to South Main Park.
In other business, Calais said that the overhaul of the city’s fire hydrants is finished. For the first time in recent memory, he said, all hydrants in the city are working. A new schedule of testing and flushing has been instituted, which will ensure the integrity of the system in the future.

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