- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

LAPLACE, La. (AP) - The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board approved the hiring of four firms to serve as special legal counsel to handle sales tax collection cases for the board.

Executive finance director Felix Boughton says the district, which generates more than half of its $43 million in local revenues from sales taxes, needs the expertise of the law firms to help collect that money.

Boughton said the district’s current attorney on retainer handles “more procedural type things” and advised the school board to seek the legal help of others with expertise in handling collection lawsuits. Each of the firms hired has experience in prosecuting and defending sales and use tax cases, which is a specialized field, Boughton said.

The St. John School Board, through its contractor ACI St. John Inc., collects and distributes revenues from the parish’s sales tax. The school board collects a total of 4.75 percent of the sales and use tax in the parish and keeps 2.25 percent, which translated into $22.6 million in revenue collected for the district last year. It distributes the remaining amount to other public entities

Boughton tells The Times-Picayune (https://bit.ly/1lG0IzV ) the firms will be used on an as-needed basis and would be paid with money generated from sales tax collection.

A motion by Albert Burl to only hire two of the firms failed. Burl said he was concerned about the higher hourly rates sought by the Lake Charles law firms of Stutes & Lavergne and Patrick Amedee of Thibodaux. At $200 per hour, the Lake Charles firm had the highest hourly attorney fee. However, Amedee, at $110 per hour was the lowest.

The other firms, Savoie and Savoie of New Orleans and the Baton Rouge firm of Rainer Anding Talbot and Mulhearn proposed the same $175 per hour attorney fee.


Information from: The Times-Picayune, https://www.nola.com

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