West Feliciana Parish will receive $6.6 million in the next year because of a change in how a state commission allocates taxes collected from Entergy’s nuclear plant in St. Francisville, and the money will help fund schools and much-needed road repairs.
Parish President Kevin Couhig made the announcement Monday at a parish council meeting that otherwise was spent tending to routine business.
Couhig said the Louisiana Tax Commission's recent decision to route all taxes collected from the River Bend Nuclear Station to West Feliciana Parish — rather than to split those funds among the 60 parishes where Entergy has customers — will offer a welcome financial boost.
“I consider it a significant win for our parish,” he said.
The parish has lost $100 million in revenue in the past 20 years, Couhig said. Some jurisdictions taxed the facility at a higher rate than West Feliciana Parish’s 80 mills, so the plant also has paid a total of about $20 million more than it should have, he said.
Other parishes stand to lose the money they were getting from River Bend’s taxes. But Couhig said Gov. John Bel Edwards as well as sheriffs and assessors around the state have been understanding of his effort to make the change.
“This parish has been in a struggle for 20 years,” Couhig said. In that time, local tax collections have been flat or decreased while costs for road repairs and other projects have gone up.
“I drive on the same roads you do,” he added. “I’m of the same opinion as you. They’re deplorable. They need to be fixed.”
The largest portion of the tax money, $2.88 million, will go to the parish school system. Another $1.14 million will go to the parish government, helping fund roads, parks and health care. The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office will get $1.17 million, and the parishwide Fire District 1 will get about $500,000.
Couhig cautioned that the money can be spent only according to wording of the property taxes that voters have already put in place. He also said the electorate still must vote to renew taxes that fund the school system, for example, for those entities to receive any funding.
“It’s not a windfall,” he said. “It’s what we should have gotten all along.”