Board takes position supporting rolling back taxes for most agencies
Baton Rouge, La. (September 23, 2020) –The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) Board of Directors has taken the position to request that most local agencies, except EBR Schools, vote to roll back their property tax rates, thereby holding their agency revenues constant and providing tax relief to homeowners and businesses in a time of deep financial distress.
“A decade’s worth of regional job growth has been erased since the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. “Twenty-four thousand East Baton Rouge Parish residents made a claim for unemployment insurance last week. Small business revenue is down. People are struggling financially; businesses are grabbing lifelines to stay afloat. Given this context, agencies considering the option to roll forward must demonstrate solid justification for doing so. With the exception of EBR School System, BRAC urges them to wait until 2021 and reconsider then. The opportunity to roll forward is available until at least 2024, or the next reassessment.“
BREC, CATS, EBR Schools, the City Parish, Sheriff’s Office, DDD, Council on Aging, EBR Library, and others are funded partly by property taxes. When properties are reassessed to determine their current fair market value, individual and business property tax bill revenues may increase as property values increase. Rolling forward property tax rates means a vote by a public body to retain higher millage rates on reassessed property that has increased in value, thereby capturing higher tax revenues.
BRAC supports the mission and work of these agencies facing difficult decisions about property taxes, and notes that its position to request that agencies hold property tax revenues level doesn’t change that position of support.
BRAC has taken exception to EBR Schools due to their increased costs from COVID-19 school safety expenses and heightened exposure to sales tax revenue uncertainty.
Further, the BRAC board applauds the governing boards of those agencies that have already chosen not to roll forward for facing this economic moment with compassion for the parish’s residents and businesses.
About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,400 small businesses, mid-sized firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at brac.org.