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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Ascension council agrees to new tax plan

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News,Business,Taxes,Budgets and Deficits

GONZALES, La. (AP) — The Ascension council has agreed to amend the way it collects sales tax revenues in portions of taxing districts annexed by municipalities, creating a small tax break for some shoppers.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1ohJMuE ) the matter came to light after the recent expiration of a tax revenue-sharing agreement among parish government, the city of Donaldsonville and the Ascension sheriff's office.

"There was lots of discussion back and forth," said Councilman Chris Loar, who served as council chairman during much of the negotiations. "It's a complicated issue, and I appreciate everyone's willingness to work with us on a compromise that works for everybody."

On April 1, sales taxes in a key commercial section of Donaldsonville rose by 2 cents on the dollar to 11 cents, after a last-minute deal to renew the original revenue-sharing agreement could not be reached.

According to the newly updated ordinance, the parish would keep half the net proceeds from any portion of its two sales tax districts annexed into municipalities prior to May 7, 2009.

The matter won't become final until a new agreement among the three public entities is signed.

The move would mean shoppers at stores in the 750 acres along La. 3089 that had been annexed into Donaldsonville would see sales taxes fall from its current 11 cents down to 10 cents: the city's current 9-cent collection and a half-cent each for the parish and sheriff.

"It allows us to collect half of our share and the city does what it wants with its share," Parish President Tommy Martinez said.

The area includes a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Wendy's Restaurant, Walgreen's Pharmacy and other businesses.

Donaldsonville officials had attempted to bring total sales tax rates in the annexed area back to the original 9 percent set in the prior agreement. That contract created a benchmark keeping the sheriff and parish from collecting their revenues until the city collected $1.75 million in sales tax revenue citywide.

Once the new agreement is signed, the new collection rate will begin on Jan. 1, allowing businesses in the district time to prepare for the change, Parish Attorney O'Neil Parenton said.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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