NEW IBERIA — Fresh off of going over budget adjustments from parish administration, the Iberia Parish Council is weighing possible adjustments to the property taxes it levies in the parish.
The council’s finance committee wrestled on Wednesday with the question of whether the government body has a spending problem or it’s a revenue issue. The debate comes as the council winds to a decision on its annual budget this month.
Iberia Parish government levies nine total millages, some are parishwide while others apply to restricted areas.
With general fund money hovering low, some parish council members discussed raising — even maximizing millages — to inflate a fund balance while reducing other taxes that presently maintain higher balances.
But others cautioned against that.
“I think we need to really get back into the budget and find some more cuts,” said Councilman Warren Gachassin Jr. “I think we need to ask ourselves, ‘Do we have a spending problem or is it a revenue problem?’”
Councilman Eugene Olivier Sr. said he was concerned about available emergency funding for hurricanes and tropical storms and spoke of “fattening up” that emergency funding in the general fund.
Last year, the Iberia Parish Council made several adjustments to its millages to remain “revenue-neutral” on the bottom line. That sentiment continued Wednesday.
“I’m not for raising taxes,” said Councilman Paul Landry. “I’m all for shifting things around to get our checkbook up.”
Councilman Ricky Gonsoulin, who began his second term this year, fired back against the implication from Gachassin, in his rookie year as a council member, that the previous body spent parish money liberally despite recent fiscal concerns.
“Any municipality out there is going to have problems when your revenues drop 50 percent,” Gonsoulin said.
The finance committee ,which comprises the entire 14-member council did not vote on a specific measure on Wednesday. The full council is expected to vote on proposed millage adjustments ordinances May 11 for the purposes of properly advertising the ordinances prior to the final vote.