Written by Nicholas Persac
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The City-Parish Council will discuss possibly eliminating a 2
percent rebate given to local retailers for paying sales-tax collections on
time during tonight's meeting, which will be held in the Ted A. Ardoin
auditorium at 705 W. University Ave. at 5:30 p.m. Members of the public wishing
to address the council on the matter should fill out a blue comments card and
submit it to the council's clerk before the meeting begins. At a meeting
tonight, the City-Parish Council and the business community will discuss whether the local government should
continue giving a 2 percent rebate to retailers who submit sales-tax
collections on time.
Last month, the council indefinitely postponed a vote that
could have eliminated the rebate in order to give the community more time to
discuss the proposal. Tonight, Councilman Don Bertrand, District 7, will
sponsor a discussion on the rebate, and he said Monday he expects the council
to vote on the rebate's repeal within the next month.
"Councilmen [Kevin] Naquin and [Jay] Castille make a
strong argument for repealing it," Bertrand said Monday.
"I want to hear from the retailers what the basis for having it is, and
then I'll make a decision."
Discussion of the rebate comes at a time when
Lafayette Consolidated Government officials are struggling to find new revenues
to help plug holes in a tight budget. Eliminating that rebate would bring the city of Lafayette
an additional $1.4 million annually, and the parish of Lafayette would gain
$104,000 each year.
The proposal to eliminate the rebate drew opposition from
both the Louisiana Restaurant Association's Acadiana Chapter and the Louisiana
"Vendors are expected to timely and accurately collect
and remit sales taxes and submit to audits," Jessica Elliott, the
Louisiana Retailers Association's director of government affairs, said in an
email Monday. "Vendors allocate considerable resources to collect sales
tax from consumers and send those tax dollars to the appropriate government entity. The vendors'
compensation allowance provides a small rebate and should be retained."
Guidry, president and CEO of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, said
Monday that although his organization asked the council to delay its vote, the
chamber has taken no position.
"The Chamber has identified certain sectors of the
economy that are most affected by the removal of the rebate and have alerted
them to council's consideration," Guidry said in an email. "Those
sectors are automobile dealers and restaurants owners and operators, who have gone
into action to combat the elimination."
Councilman Kevin Naquin, District
1, said he cannot support any new or increased taxes until the vendors'
compensation rebate is eliminated.
"The money we're giving back to the businesses is supposed to be used for government services," Naquin
"When you open a business in America today, you all of a sudden
become a tax collector...
"I hear 'cut, cut, cut [spending]' from the tea party
and other people, and this is a program I find we're overspending on. We're
giving money back to the businesses for simply doing what every business in
America is supposed to do."