Parish sales tax receipts approach record levels

By: MACK SPENCER

PATTERSON — Who knew near-record sales tax receipts could make budgeting difficult?

“If you ask me where (sales) tax revenues are going to go, I don’t know,” Barry Dufrene, head of the parish sales and use tax department, told the Council of Governments Monday night. “We’re in near-record territory, and I couldn’t tell you where we’ll go from here.”

Charts provided by Dufrene show that, for the first two quarters of the year, 2011 features the third highest sales tax collections of the past decade and before.

Collections without audit through June totaled $19.8 million, and rise to $20.4 million with audit collections. Compared to 2010, second-quarter collections with audit takes in 2011 were up 11.8 percent, less of an increase than the 18.3 percent increase recorded in the first quarter. Combined, collections are up by 14.9 percent.

However, second-quarter collections still outstripped the first quarter by $200,000.

Industrial sales taxes rose a percent as a proportion of the parish’s collections, to 18 percent. Oil and gas taxes totaled 13 percent, department store sales, 10 percent and auto sales, 9 percent. The largest single category was miscellaneous other, at 26 percent.

Also during the meeting, schools Superintendent Don Aguillard pitched the district’s $6.3 million property tax renewal.

“It would be devastating if we lose this stream of income,” Aguillard said.

The superintendent said that dollar figure would translate to the loss of 127 teachers or an 11 percent, across-the-board pay cut for every school board employee.

The council passed a resolution of support for the measure.

Parish emergency preparedness head Duval Arthur Jr. reported that Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria has been designated as the shelter for hurricane evacuees from St. Mary Parish. He also touted state storm survival guides, which are available from his office.

State reps. Joe Harrison and Sam Jones gave a report on the past legislative session, including renewal of a cigarette tax, a constitutional amendment protecting the TOPS college tuition program, funding for Atchafalaya Basin recreation programs, funding for I-49 construction, and expansion of the Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District to the Wax Lake Outlet.

The next meeting of the council was moved from its normal last Monday in October to Oct. 24, to avoid conflict with Halloween.

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