Talbert at EBR Council

Councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert testifies to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council regarding a development in Livingston Parish that is requesting a tax exemption. The EBR Council, which operates the Capital Area Finance Authority, has the right to grant the tax exemption, through state legislation.

It's been a long break for the parish council, but the crew returns Thursday after a long break due to the Police Jury Association convention, which postponed their second meeting of the month.

And, while the agenda looks short, it's packed with several hot button items.

One of which is the Capital Area Finance Authority, run by the East Baton Rouge Parish Council, which was given the right by the Louisiana legislature to run the PILOT program for the capital region. Their task is to determine the tax exemption status for certain projects that meet specific criteria.

In this case, a low-to-middle income housing development on Juban Road, which is being designed for seniors. The tax exemption would cost Livingston Parish roughly $170,000 per year in property taxes, while CAFA would collect more than that in administrative fees, according to Councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert.

Talbert was contacted by EBR Councilman Trae Welch, asking if the Livingston Parish Council was behind the measure. Talbert came to the council asking for their support in rejecting the tax exempt status by penning a resolution to the EBR council asking they deny it.

While the council agreed, 8-1, to send the resolution, councilman R.C. 'Bubba' Harris was the lone 'no' vote. The project is in his district.

The school board and sheriff followed suit, sending their own resolutions to the EBR Council. All three bodies were for the project, just not the exemption.

Talbert himself testified before the EBR council last Wednesday, asking for them to reject the tax exempt status for the project. It would already cost the parish funds, when the parish itself is cash strapped, and would exempt the project from paying sales tax on building materials.

EBR tabled the item for 30 days.

Now, Talbert plans to ask the parish council to send a resolution to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, asking for an opinion on whether or not it was legal for the legislature to grant CAFA the authority to make tax exempt determinations in areas it's governing body does not represent.

The full council will have to vote on the measure Thursday evening. The board now meets at 6 p.m. at the Livingston Parish Council Chambers in Livingston.

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