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|Sterlington hunts uncollected fees|
The Town of Sterlington will begin participating in a statewide program to pursue uncollected occupational license fees.
Sterlington's board of aldermen signed off on the matter Tuesday night at its regular meeting.
Sterlington Mayor Vern Breland said the town will take part in the Louisiana Municipal Advisory and Technical Services Bureau, or LAMATS, a program administered by the Louisiana Municipal Association.
"They have a database that basically ensures the town is getting all the money that's supposed to be coming to it," said Breland.
By taking part in the LAMATS program, the LMA will collect and issue occupational licenses to insurance companies that sell policies within Sterlington's corporate limits.
According to state law, any company that sells insurance in a town or city must have an occupational license in that community.
According to LMA representative Bill Mulkey, the money adds up.
"It cuts down on the work in the office because they don't have to fill out all these licenses," said Mulkey.
"Also, they don't have the expense of mailing the forms."
Because very little money is collected on each occupational license, many municipalities do not pursue the fees. Also, insurance companies know they have to pay the money, but many companies do not know to whom the money should be paid.
Mulkey said LAMATS clears up the confusion and keeps track of the various payments owed to municipalities throughout the state.
By managing the licenses from one centralized system, municipalities are able to save money and paperwork, Breland said.
Mulkey said occupational licenses are not a tax on insurance premiums and would not affect the cost of individual premiums because the insurance providers are already factoring into the cost the license.
"This is not a tax on the insurance," Mulkey said. "It's something that's been going on for years."
Though Mulkey said he could not estimate how much revenue would be collected at this time, the money could be substantial.
"They are going to collect a good bit of money because Sterlington is growing fast," Mulkey said.
The program is already in place in a number of communities throughout the state, according to Mulkey.
"In Louisiana right now, 160 municipalities are a member of this service," Mulkey said. "More than half of the towns and cities in Louisiana take advantage of it."