Parish council supports Amendment No. 4

By Jamie Anfenson-Comeau

OPELOUSAS – The St. Landry Parish Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to release a statement in support of state constitutional amendment No. 4, which is on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The amendment would increase the cap on the parish’s share of the severance tax on oil and gas revenues to $1.85 million in 2009 and $2.85 million in 2010 and from then on, as adjusted for inflation.

The state constitution requires the state to share 20 percent of the tax with the parish of origin, but currently caps the amount each parish can receive at $850,000, adjusted for inflation.

Parishes would have to put at least 50 percent into transportation.

Councilman Glenn Stout put forward a motion asking the parish council to issue a statement in support of the amendment.

“It’s not going to cost the taxpayers anything at all,” Stout said. “The money’s there, they’re just going to change how they distribute it.”

“We need to encourage the public that this is a good thing, and we need to vote for it,” Stout said.

The current severance tax money goes into the general fund, where it is currently used to pay for unfunded mandates.

Parish president Don Menard was cautiously optimistic about the amendment.

“I’d like to dedicate 100 percent of this towards roads,” Menard said. “With this, we wouldn’t need a road tax.”

Menard, however, warned the parish council not to get too excited about the money.

“We still have no idea how this is going to be administered,” Menard said.

Menard said that no one has told him how much of the money might have to go to funding state roads.

“We still haven’t gotten a full explanation on exactly how local those roads are going to be,” Menard said.

“There are going to be strings attached. The state isn’t going to give us this kind of money without some kind of strings attached. I just don’t know what they are yet.”

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