State law allows a specific governmental entity to provide tax exemptions for certain developments throughout Louisiana.
Even if that development does not rest in the same parish which gives the permission.
Those developments must meet certain requirements, usually surrounding income constraints and amenities within the development, to qualify. Then the Capital Area Finance Authority (CAFA), which is run by the East Baton Rouge Parish Council for the nine-parish region, can issue a payment requirement in lieu of property taxes.
In the case of Morningside at Juban, a 120-unit development coming to Buddy Ellis which was approved after the flood by the parish council, that payment would be $101.35. The regular, yearly property tax bill for the development would be $75,000.
On Thursday, the parish council adopted a resolution to send to the East Baton Rouge Council requesting that they not support the tax exemption for the development.
"I can't ask them not to approve this," councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert (District 2) said, "(the parish council) has discussed our budget issues, and we're also asking him not to pay the school board, the sheriff...
"It's just not right, we have no control."
Talbert presented the resolution Thursday night after receiving a call from EBR councilman Trae Welch, who asked Talbert "if he knew anything about it" and "wanted to know what the Livingston Parish Council wanted to do about it," Talbert said.
Randy Delatte (District 8) agreed with Talbert, despite having an earlier dispute with regard to selection of a chairman.
"I'm not in favor of the control of who pays taxes not being in the hands of local government," Delatte said. "I don't think (the resolution) goes far enough; resolutions are non-binding, I think we should make an ordinance.
Tom Delahaye, developer of the property, said that the statements made could not be farther from the truth. Delahaye explained that the tax exemptions were necessary to be able to keep rents at a certain level for senior citizens.
Delahaye cited an Advocate article which appeared after the flood, telling the story of one senior citizen who was flooded out of her home and did not have enough cash flow to afford a new home. Delahaye said he wanted to provide for those in that need.
"It's a shame that large industries and businesses get tax cuts, but the elderly do not," Delahaye said, "a vote for this resolution is a vote against the elderly of Livingston Parish."
Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse (District 7) brought up a concern during the discussion, however, stating that the Memorandum of Understanding mentioned nothing about "elderly" with regard to the development. According to Girlinghouse, the MOU only discussed income level.
"That's just the way they word it," Delahaye said, adding that he assured the council that the development would be for the elderly only.
The council voted 7-1 to sign the resolution and send it to the EBR council, with R.C. Bubba Harris (District 5) being the only "nae" vote.
Harris explained that he had met with Delahaye before the meeting, as well as Parish President Layton Ricks, and liked the proposal as it benefits the elderly. Delahaye's other development properties on Buddy Ellis currently pay roughly $500,000 in property taxes.