Lincoln Parish Police Jury/Tax Assessor at Odds on Building Tax

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury and the Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor had an intriguing disagreement at last night’s meeting of the jury.

It seems that Tax Assessor Sheila Bordelon levied ad valorem taxes on part of the old County Market building for the first time. Located just across West Texas Avenue from the court house, that building is occupied by several private businesses and also several government offices.

The property tax was to be levied only on the part of the building occupied by the business, but not the government offices. Bordelon’s logic was that since that part of the building rented to private companies doesn’t serve a “public purpose,” property taxes should be levied.

Bordelon noted that the private business already pay property taxes on their inventory and furnishings.

Once a year, the jury sits as a property tax board of review to either approve or disapprove any appeals any parish property owners may have on their tax assessments. Acting in that capacity, the jury voted to nullify the assessment on the old County Market building.

The vote was seven yeas and five abstentions. Voting for were: Bennett, Roberson, Hammonds, Pullen, Backus, Russell, and Straughter. Abstaining were: Wyatt, Mayfield, Hunter, Henderson, and Wilson.

In making the motion, Pullen argued that argued that the revenue from the leases did serve a public purpose.

Said Pullen, “The rent is being used to pay public bonds to service the indebtedness of the property. The revenue is serving a public purpose.”

Bordelon said that several City of Ruston properties were also being assessed, including a former church that is now being used by a construction company as an office.

Theresa Wyatt noted that since the issue was added to the agenda at the last minute, she would prefer studying the issue further.

However, since the review process had a deadline, the vote was taken.

It is unclear at this time if Bordelon will appeal to the Louisiana Tax Commission.

Earlier, the Finance Committee reviewed requests from area agencies for their annual budget requests.

Several agencies had representatives on hand making their case for funding.

The Public Works Committee made several changes to the parish building code ordinance.

Formerly, there was but a single parish Building Official who was responsible for inspection and approval of any new construction or remodeling outside Ruston’s city limits. The changes will allow others to act in that capacity.

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