New Roads mayor to seek injunction against tax increase

NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - According to a news release, New Roads Mayor Robert Myer said he will seek an injunction to block the Pointe Coupee Police Jury's tax increase if jury members do not immediately rescind the tax.

Myer says the tax increase is unconstitutional. According to Myer, the Pointe Coupee Police Jury passed a resolution on April 23, 2013 to raise the general millage for residents and businesses of New Roads from 1.71 mills to 3.42 mills without a notice to the citizens.

The following text is the rest of the news release:

"Myer addressed jury members two weeks ago, informing them that their tax increase is unconstitutional, unfair and a deterrent to economic development. The Louisiana Constitution limits parish governments from levying general millage taxes on municipalities that exceed 1,000 in population and that provide and maintain a road paving system. The parish government can only impose half the parish-wide general millage rate of 3.42 mills inside the city limits of New Roads, thus capping its rate at 1.71 mills, Myer said.

"The City of New Roads clearly meets both factors," Myer said, noting that the city's population is 5,000 people, and the city provides and maintains a system of street paving as evidenced by its budgeted expenditures.

Myer explained to the jury that the city recently built and paved Memorial Boulevard, which will serve as a new economic corridor, and it will build and pave an extension of 10th Street. Also, the city will construct the King's subdivision to the Curet subdivision connector road in the coming months. He also said the city funds and operates a street maintenance program that includes repairing streets, maintaining curbs, ditches and drainage related to local streets.

"After my presentation of the facts, the jury failed to take action to rescind this unconstitutional tax," he said. "Jury members have chosen to ignore the State Constitution and the rights of the citizens of New Roads by not rescinding their vote to levy additional taxes on the people and businesses of New Roads," Myer said. "Therefore, I am moving forward on legal action to block this tax increase. I was hopeful that it would not have to come to this, but I am prepared to do all that is necessary to protect the people and businesses of New Roads from unfair taxes."

Myer also said the Police Jury's action was taken without advertising to the public and without the opportunity of a public vote. "What the Police Jury is trying to do is a modern-day 'taxation without representation' assault on the people and businesses of New Roads," Myer said. "The residents here had no say in this tax increase and the increase is also a violation of the Louisiana Constitution."

Myer said businesses and residents of New Roads are currently paying their fair share of taxes for road maintenance in the city and throughout the parish. In particular, the parish has collected $4.6 million since 2005 from inside the City of New Roads from its half-cent sales tax that is dedicated to road maintenance and construction throughout the parish. Since the tax went into effect 16 years ago, however, parish records show only $2.3 million has been spent on projects within the City of New Roads. In fact, it is estimated that residences and businesses within the City of New Roads have contributed nearly $10 million to this road tax -- four times the amount that was spent within the city.

Much of New Road's street and road maintenance costs have been funded by the city, which since Myer took office, has budgeted and spent nearly $2 million annually on constructing, paving and maintain local roads and streets.

"This is not a city versus a parish issue, because we all believe that monies collected within the City of New Roads should go to help our friends, families and businesses who live outside our city limits and throughout the parish. However, in addition to the unconstitutional property tax increase, the parish has also recently raised fees on garbage collection and drainage impact. These arbitrary tax and fee increases by the parish create an undue burden on businesses and residents of the City of New Roads. Our citizens deserve better treatment from their government, and this administration will stop at nothing to give them that."

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