CCST letter in reference to Parcel Fee
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
St. Tammany Fire District 3 27690 Main Street Lacombe, LA. 70445
Attn: Chief Pat Sicard
Recently CCST was asked by many voters in Lacombe our position on the Parcel Fee, which FD-3 is asking for on the March 30th ballot. Early voting began on March 16th and ends March 23rd. CCST had three very qualified individuals review the finances of FD-3 while evaluating their services, equipment etc.
The CCST team conducting the evaluation consisted of a retired 2 Star General, who also was an Inspector General in the Army, Our Legal Chair, who is a retired partner in the large law firm in New Orleans, Adams & Reese and a recently retired IRS employee, who was second in charge in the country for Audits.
CCST reviewed three years of financial records and minutes of each meeting for the same time period. Unfortunately, the mailer sent out by FD-3 to property owners in Lacombe did not do justice to why they need additional revenue. Financially, they are working on nickels and dimes and the Parcel fee will not solve all their financial concerns, however and importantly, it will allow them to seek a bond that will.
We did stress to FD-3 that we felt Pubic notice was too short and handled poorly, which they acknowledged. The hard reality is that FD-3 finances are in good order, but they are strapped financially and service will decline dramatically, if they don't get the money needed on March 30th. The resulting affect if this $72.00 parcel fee fails, would have a great impact on the service in the Lacombe area. Unlike some other wealthy districts, there is no silver-plating on this one, nor is there any "empire building" when it comes to personnel.
The Parcel Fee would be on any parcel of land with a structure, which brings everyone into play for paying for essential services. Unlike property taxes, parcel fees are not subject to the state’s homestead exemption, which exempts the first $75,000 of value on an owner-occupied from paying property taxes. The other hard reality is that 70% of the citizens in Lacombe do not pay any property taxes, yet that percentage of citizens use a majority of the services that FD3 provides. This fee if passed would now affect those that have a parcel of land with a structure.
CCST seldom supports increased taxes, however we believe this proposal is fair and we hope that citizens of Lacombe support FD-3 at the ballot on March 30th.
Rick Franzo President CCST Inc.
Cc: CCST Board & Advisors