Gonzales Council discusses sales tax

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief

The Gonzales City Council met for a regular meeting on September 25. Shortly after attendees stood for the invocation and pledge of allegiance, and minutes from the September 11 meeting were approved, one citizen voiced opposition to the half-cent sales tax that will be on the October 14 ballot.

The man, obviously in opposition to the tax, brought up the question of whether or not another half cent would bring the city to the allowed maximum city-state combined sales tax for Gonzales. That maximum figure currently hovers at ten percent.

"We charge two percent and are looking for another half cent," City Clerk Clay Stafford said.

This opened up a discussion about numbers and maximums that local officials are not entirely sure about, but hashed out. The citizen at the podium questioned if Gonzales can go over the 10 percent max. Turns out that in special tax increment financing (TIF) districts, such as Tanger or the new Conway development, that the maximum sales tax can be above the max because of community improvement and infrastructure redevelopments.

The city assured that they are not taxing up to the max. The man voiced his opinion that the city has not publicized the tax well enough, even asking if the city is trying to hide something. This prompted Mayor Arceneaux to place a reporter from The Advocate on the spot about when the last time it was discussed in the paper.

Furthermore, the city has created a political action committee (PAC) to promote the tax. The local news has covered the tax proposal, which if passed has been promised to go towards building a new community center as well as a new convention center. The tax will also be spread across police and fire protection and roads and infrastructure improvements.

If the state sales tax was lower, it may not be an issue. But that's simply not the case. Louisiana currently has the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates in the country at 9.98 percent and unfortunately not much to show for it road-wise. Later in the meeting, City Attorney Erin Lanoux addressed the concerned man for clarification.

"The state statutes that govern municipalities' levy of sales tax states that the maximum sales tax is two-and-a-half percent for cities," Lanoux said. "So we are currently at two. The current half cent would put us at the maximum under that statute . . . Conway is a separate taxing district that would only be paid if you're buying things in that development."

Moving on Ken Brass introduced himself as a candidate for State Representative District 58, another item on the October 14 ballot. Brass is currently vice-chairman of the St. James Parish Council. He is a graduate of Lutcher High '94, and he has been with BASF in Geismar for 18 years. His campaign ad was featured in the September 28 issue of the Weekly Citizen.

"I'm definitely in it to win it," Brass said.

Next, the Gonzales Thunder 10-and-under softball team was honored for winning the 2017 state championship. "I'm telling you folks, this is the city of champions!" Mayor Arceneaux said.

Final votes were taken on Ordinances 4031, 4032, 4033, and 4034. 4031 is for a special use permit to do a large indoor storage at the corner of Highways 44 and 30. Passed. 4032 regards the front piece of the Bruno property on E. Worthey to change from a C-1 to a C-2. Also passed.

4033 is for limiting tent sales. The law used to be two times a year for 30 days. It too passed, shortening the window from 30 days to seven days max. 4034 is a taxicab insurance ordinance requiring such companies to carry $25,050.25 worth of insurance. It passed.

Lastly, $673,961 was the low bid awarded to Feliciana Welders, Inc. for the Cornerview at Irma turning lane project, which requires moving water and gas lines.

Mayor Arceneaux wished Councilman David Guitreau a happy birthday.

"I guarantee you he's not 30," Mayor Arceneaux said.