Foreclosures up in La., down nationally

The number of properties that received foreclosure filings in Louisiana jumped 21.9 percent during the first six months of the year compared to the first half of 2010, according to RealtyTrac, an online seller of foreclosed properties.

Foreclosure filings include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions.

In Louisiana, 9,922 properties received foreclosure filings, or 0.5 percent of the state’s total housing units, according to RealtyTrac.

Meanwhile, nationwide, foreclosure filings are headed the other way, dropping 29 percent during the first half of 2011 when compared to the same time period a year ago, according to RealtyTrac.

However, the drop in foreclosure activity isn’t the result of a better economy or an improved housing market, RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James J. Saccacio said in a news release.

“Processing and procedural delays are pushing foreclosures further and further out. We estimate that as many as 1 million foreclosure actions that should have taken place in 2011 will now happen in 2012, or perhaps even later,” Saccacio said in the release. “This casts an ominous shadow over the housing market, where recovery is unlikely to happen until the current and forthcoming inventory of distressed properties can be whittled down to a manageable number.”

BRAC finds some bright spots in 2011 session

The 2011 legislative session contained a few bright spots, such as tax breaks for “angel” investors and digital media companies, but disappointed when it came to financial reforms for higher education, according to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

Adam Knapp, president and chief executive officer of BRAC, said the lack of support from area legislators, and the Legislature as a whole, for reforms that would have better-funded LSU and other research universities was “disappointing.”

“Although there were not massive projected cuts to university funding, they missed the opportunity of a budget crisis to make the hard decisions on more long-term financing solutions,” Knapp said in a news release.

The chamber’s analysis of the session found some positives for the Baton Rouge area, including:

--Passage of the LA GRAD Act 2.0 gives colleges and universities more flexibility when it comes to purchasing, personnel, facilities, and investment.

--House Bill 526 creates a uniform system of tuition and fee charges for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System

--The reinstatement of the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program. The program offers a 35 percent transferable tax credit to angel investors. This incentive encourages high-net worth individuals to make “angel” investments in startup companies that typically have trouble accessing capital.

--The Digital Interactive Media Incentive Program converted the current incentive, which provides $6 million in tax credits that generate $41 million in state revenues, from a transferable tax credit to a refundable tax credit. Companies can choose a rebate option equal to 85 percent of the face value of the credit.

--House Bill 421 encourages corporations to partner with area charter schools, which BRAC believes can significantly improve the education the school provides. Corporate donations of land, school building or space, a major renovation project, or capital improvement in areas such as technology mean the school can give enrollment preference of up to 50 percent for children of permanent employees of the corporate partner.

Poverty Point could make national list

MONROE — Poverty Point State Historic Site’s prehistoric earthworks in West Carroll Parish took a giant leap toward inclusion on the United Nations’ World Heritage List when U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said he will propose the site to be considered as a U.S. nomination, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List includes fewer than 1,000 sites, and among them are the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall of China and the Statue of Liberty.

Poverty Point is a vast complex of earthen mounds and ridges built by inhabitants more than 3,500 years ago.

The structures, including an integrated complex of earthen mounds; enormous concentric ridges; and a large plaza, may be the largest hunter-gatherer settlement that ever existed.

Tax holiday coming August

The majority of consumer purchases are exempt from state sales taxes during the 2011 Louisiana Annual Sales Tax Holiday on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6, according to a news release.

The sales tax holiday exempts the first $2,500 of the purchase price of each eligible item from the four percent state sales tax. The law describes eligible items as “individual items of tangible personal property for non-business use.”

The state Department of Revenue encourages shoppers to retain receipts for school supplies, uniforms, and educational equipment required by schools. Expenses paid this year are eligible for tax deductions on 2011 Louisiana Individual Income Tax Returns due May 15, 2012. In order to claim the deductions, you must be able to claim the student as a dependent on your state individual income tax return, and you must be able to provide documentation for the expenses.

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Forecast: Hot, rainy

There will be scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms across the Baton Rouge area Thursday, WBRZ meteorologist Dave Nussbaum says in the station’s daily weather blog.

It will stay very hot and humid with highs in the mid 90s.

The storms will likely continue into the evening hours before dissipating overnight.

Thursday night will be very warm and muggy with lows in the upper 70s.