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In a word, that best describes a decision to form a committee to study any property tax proposition the Ouachita Parish Police Jury entertains.
The individuals responsible for the endeavor in question are officials with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and the West Monroe/West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce.
Apparently officials at the chambers feel the police jury cannot adequately piece together a property tax proposition for the citizens of the parish to decide at a ballot box. It's obvious, too, that officials with the chambers don't trust the police jury to level with the taxpayers in Ouachita when police jurors ask them to approve or renew a property tax.
We suppose that's why the chambers formed a volunteer tax study committee, which eventually could broaden its scope to study any tax proposition—other than property taxes—offered to the voters by the police jury. The tax study committee also may attempt to extend its influence over other governing bodies in the parish, but as it stands today only the police jury will be subjected to any oversight by the chambers.
Supposedly, the tax study committee will gather information on any property tax proposal offered by police jurors and recommend to the two chambers whether a tax proposition should be supported or not. At some point, we assume, officials at the chambers will share with us and the citizens of the parish how they feel about a property tax advocated by the police jury.
Officials at the chambers say the idea to form a tax study committee, whose composition is undetermined, arose because they usually don't have enough time to study a property tax proposition generated by police jurors. They say a decision is often made to ask the voters to approve it before the chambers have had an opportunity to study it.
Officials with the chambers pointed to the recent election for a property tax dedicated to mosquito control efforts in Ouachita as an example of the chambers not having an adequate amount of time to study a property tax issue before an election was held to decide its fate. It should be noted the mosquito tax was approved by parish voters in spite of the two chambers opposing it.
It should be noted as well that the man, Dr. Clark Cooper, who chaired the committee which pieced together the mosquito abatement tax proposition was adamant in stating the chambers of commerce had more than 90 days to study the mosquito tax proposal.
Officials with the chambers also say they should have some input on whether the police jury should place a property tax proposition on the ballot for voters to decide since it is the business community that pays some 85 percent of all property taxes in Ouachita.
That's an acceptable point.
It is acceptable as well to question whether a majority of the membership of the chambers of commerce agree with the decisions the board of directors of the two chambers make concerning property tax proposals.
While, on the surface, a tax study committee to review any property tax proposal may appear to be a good idea, we are less than enthused about the committee formed by the chambers for a number of reasons.
First of all, police jury president Walt Caldwell was correct when he pointed out the police jury has a track record of appointing individuals from the business community to citizen advisory boards to provide input and the like on tax proposals police jurors have introduced in the past.
Caldwell also was correct in stating the police jury has a track record of providing more than enough time for the community in general to comment on a tax proposal the police jury placed on a ballot in Ouachita. Dr. Cooper made that point, too.
Caldwell's statement, though, that police jurors could be passing the buck, so to speak, in deferring to a tax study committee to sign off on a property tax was right on the money. In other words, police jurors would be abdicating their responsibilities as elected officials by allowing a tax study committee to dictate which tax offering backed by the police jury was acceptable to the chambers.
Yet, there's something else at play that prompted the chambers of commerce to assume they should serve as some kind of quasi-tax policy experts extraordinaire.
Obviously, the electorate in Ouachita is not influenced by the positions the chambers take, or profess, when voters are asked to approve a tax proposal offered by the police jury. The mosquito tax proved that point.
Thus, it would be within reason to say the chambers are attempting to save face by forming its own tax study committee to serve in some sort of advisory role to the police jury.
We find it ironic, too, that only in recent years did the chambers decide they should oversee tax propositions the police jury entertained.
Could it be the chambers' involvement surfaced not long after the police jury voted to quit giving the chambers money for so-called lobbying efforts?
In a final analysis, if you will, the chambers need to revisit the drawing board in the property tax watchdog arena.
More important, though, the chambers should scrap that folly masquerading as a tax study committee and get busy doing what chambers of commerce are supposed to do: Attracting businesses to the community to create jobs for the people.