- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A jury swiftly ended a more than three-year-long legal battle by deciding that voters in East Baton Rouge, Livingston and Ascension parishes were not overtaxed to fund the yet-to-be-completed Comite River Diversion Canal.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1eee9ym ) an East Baton Rouge Parish jury of eight women and four men deliberated for only an hour Wednesday before concluding by an 11-1 vote that the Amite River Basin District was not limited to collecting just $6 million in property taxes for the project.

A 2010 lawsuit, filed by Central property owner Terry Campbell, claimed the district was authorized to collect only $6 million through a 3-mill, 10-year property tax approved by voters in the three parishes in 2000.

The suit later obtained class-action status.

In 2010, voters in the three parishes approved a 10-year extension of the tax at 2.65 mills.

The suit threatened to force the Amite River Basin District to refund millions to dollars to taxpayers.

Larry Bankston, an attorney for the Amite River Basin District, said more than $20 million in local property taxes have been collected for the 12-mile project through the 2 millages.

Bankston said the quick jury verdict spoke loudly.

“The fact that the jury came back so quickly is a testament to the lack of evidence” presented by the plaintiffs, he said outside state District Judge Wilson Fields’ courtroom.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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