Last Modified: Monday, July 02, 2012 1:45 PM
By Eric Cormier / American Press
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach’s administration is requesting a roll forward on millage rates in an attempt to curb the city’s proposed budget deficit.
Following recent property assessments, which take place every four years‚ the city’s millage rate was set at 15.35 mills. The adjusted rate is 14.64 mills.
Roach administration members calculate that $8,056,164 would be collected in tax revenue from the adjusted millage. An additional $372,630 would be obtained with the roll forward.
Roach said the roll forward will cost city property owners an extra $7 in their tax bill, which will be due in December.
Additional property tax per property owned if 15.35 mills is approved by the City Council would be:
Roach said the additional money will help the city contend with an additional $1.5 million to $2 million in increased retirement benefits for city police and firefighters.
“Those benefit figures are significantly more of an increase than what we will get from property taxes,” he said. “If we roll back, then we give up $300,000, which adds to the burden we are already experiencing.”
City finance director Karen Harrell said the city needs additional revenue, even if sales tax numbers have improved slightly in recent months. “In the end, we have budgeted deficits the last several years. We need additional revenue.”
The actual number of property owners who will pay extra property taxes is not known, but Harrell said a rough estimate would be 27,000, which is the number of water bills mailed every month.
Roach said property owners should be reminded that Lake Charles historically has some of the lowest property rates in the state.
He emphasized that the additional money would not be used frivolously.
“This in no way will solve the problem, but it will contribute to the solution. We won’t fund retirement benefits by keeping the millage where it is today, but it will help offset some costs,” he said.
A public hearing about the millage has been set for 5:30 p.m. July 18 at the Central School Arts and Humanities Center at 809 Kirby St.