City accepts parish proposal to reduce tax in Wal-Mart shopping area

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley

Donaldsonville City Council voted 4-0, with the absence of Lauthaught Delaney, to accept a proposal from the Parish of Ascension that would lower the sales tax rate in the Wal-Mart Shopping area by one percent.

Since April 1, the sales tax rate has been at 11 cents on the dollar for the common area after an agreement between the city, parish and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office expired.

Under the proposal the council accepted Tuesday, both the sheriff and the parish would lower their collection by half, bringing the total amount collected down to 10 cents on the dollar.

The Ascension Parish Council still must approve the proposed agreement, and the lower rate would not be in effect until the new fiscal quarter begins on Sept. 1.

“Really we are just sending them a letter saying we agree with their proposal,” Raymond Aucoin said, City Council Chairman. “They didn’t want to take it to the next step if we didn’t approve.”

The city offered a proposal earlier in the summer to resume to the original contract that began in 2004. However, the parish and the Sheriff’s Office countered with this one.

“It would be permanent and through an ordinance,” Aucoin said.

The original 5-year collection agreement between the three sides kicked in when Donaldsonville annexed the property in 2004. It was reapproved for another five years, but the agreement again expired at the end of 2013.  In that agreement, the parish and sheriff gave up a combined one-cent of their collection rates and Donaldsonville gave up one cent, keeping the total tax rate at 9 percent.

Terms of that agreement also set a benchmark that allowed the city to collect $1.75 million per year in sales tax revenue citywide before the sheriff and parish could collect any share of sales tax from the annexed area.

The parish pushed for a 50-50 share in the annexed area without a revenue benchmark. The city has said such a deal would cost the city $250,000 per year, while the city still would be responsible for providing services to the annexed area