- Associated Press - Monday, September 1, 2014

GRAND CAILLOU, La. (AP) - A state audit says the fire district that oversees the Grand Caillou Volunteer Fire Department has been over-collecting a property tax to pay off a bond debt.

The Courier reported (https://bit.ly/1mXSLlv) the audit released by the state legislative auditor’s office found the tax yielded Terrebonne Fire District 4A $743,965 in 2013 to pay a bond debt of $420,000.

The 2.6-mill property tax is meant to be adjusted annually to generate just enough money to pay off the debt, the audit said. A mill is $1 in tax levied on every $1,000 of taxable property.

“Basically they’ve taxed too much,” said Joy Irwin, local government services director for the auditor’s office. “The state constitution says that every year the governing body is supposed to calculate how much the millage should be so that it will generate enough money to pay the bond debt.”

Auditors say the over-taxation is not illegal and is caused by the district’s failure to adjust the millage rate.

“We’re not saying that they did this illegally. Usually what happens is at the beginning of the bond term they estimate that based on their current assessment they’ll need a certain millage rate to pay the bond over its 20-year life. But over the life of the bond the millage rate is supposed to be adjusted, and unfortunately somebody at that fire district didn’t get the message and they’ve kept it at the same rate,” Irwin said.

The report suggests the district should discontinue the tax and use its existing debt service fund of $460,095 to pay the remaining bond debt and interest due over the term of the bond.

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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