06 July 2006
Poverty Point Reservoir receives $980,000 cash out of the State General Fund,
House Bill Number 1 by Rep. John Alario, D-Westwego.
Francis C. Thompson's Hb 1129 securing the $950,000 Payable out of the State
General Fund for Poverty Point Reservoir Development Fund.
Is Thompson and Alario working together to waste our money on Golf Courses?
in the event that House Bill No. 1129 of the 2006 Regular Session of the
Legislature is enacted into law $ 950,000
Provided, however, that in the event House Bill No. 1129 of the 2006 Regular Session of the Legislature is enacted into law the commissioner of administration shall reduce Fees and self-generated Revenues by $950,000 within this schedule.
Payable out of the State General Fund $ 30,000 (Direct) by Statutory Dedications out of the Audubon Golf 2 Trail Development Fund to the Marketing Program,
in the event that House Bill No. 1129 of the 2006 Regular Session of the Legislature is enacted into law $ 30,000
Provided, however, that in the event House Bill No. 1129 of the 2006 Regular Session of the Legislature is enacted into law, the commissioner of administration shall reduce Fees and Self-generated Revenues by $30,000 within this schedule. Provided, further, that any unexpended Fees and Self-generated Revenues collected in Fiscal Year 2006 in Schedule 06-261 Office of the Secretary pursuant to Audubon Golf Trail activities shall revert to the Audubon Golf Trail Development Fund.
HOUSE BILL NO. 1129
BY REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON
relative to state funds; to establish the Poverty Point Reservoir Development Fund as a special treasury fund; to provide for the deposit and use of monies in the fund; to establish the Audubon Golf Trail Development Fund as a special treasury fund; to provide for the deposit and use of monies in the fund; and to provide for related matters.the state treasurer shall each year deposit in and credit to the fund an amount equal to the total fees and self-generated revenues collected in that year from activities of the Poverty Point Retirement Development Community and the Black Bear Golf Course.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
By Robert Travis Scott
BATON ROUGE -- Legislation that would funnel state taxpayer money to a private golf course on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish is awaiting the governor's review as critics voice concerns that the measure is a misuse of public dollars that sets a bad precedent.
On the last day of the recent lawmaking session, Rep. John Alario, D-Westwego, changed an unrelated bill to create a special zone in the Avondale area to steer state sales tax revenue to the Tournament Players Club of Louisiana, already the beneficiary of about $13 million in state support.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco can sign the bill, let it become law without her signature or veto it by July 10. Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher said the administration is awaiting an analysis of the tax revenue impact from the Legislative Fiscal Office before making a decision.
"The red flag should go up on this one," said Jim Brandt, president of the Public Affairs Research Council, which monitors state policy.
State already on the hook
Owned by the private golf company PGA Tour and local developers, the $24 million Tournament Players Club opened in 2004 backed with a $12 million direct state subsidy. Also, the state is obligated by a five-year contract to guarantee golf rounds booked through local hotels and last year had to shell out about $1 million to the club for missed rounds.
The golf course tax district was attached to a bill authored by Rep. Yvonne Dorsey, D-Baton Rouge, which originally set out to make changes to existing tax districts in Denham Springs and for the World Trade Center in New Orleans. Alario added the provision to a bill in a closed-door conference committee, in which a group of six lawmakers, three from each house, works out a compromise on legislation.
Alario's amendment would create a district bounded by Segnette Boulevard, Nicolle Boulevard, U.S. 90 and the West Bank Expressway, an area that includes the golf course plus about six times more land. Any growth in state sales tax collections in that area would be devoted to "the operation, maintenance, upkeep, and capital improvements" of the club as well as the fulfillment of the state subsidy for missed rounds.
The existing state obligation runs out in 2009, but Alario's district would continue collecting money after that date. The district is largely undeveloped compared with the rest of the West Bank, but is considered a prime growth region. In effect, all state sales taxes from any new retailers, car dealers or restaurants would flow into the new district. A Wal-Mart alone could count for millions of dollars in sales taxes over time.
The amendment does not designate parish sales taxes for the district.
No state oversight
Jefferson Parish officials would set up the district, appoint officers, name the staff, lawyers and consultants and determine compensation with money drawn from the sales tax pool.
"This is new ground we're charting," said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, a critic of the amendment. "It was an issue that was not thoroughly discussed during the session where you could see the pros and cons."
Scalise said the measure is too open-ended and should have at least carried a provision to end the subsidy at some point in the future. While some tax-increment financing districts have worked well, they normally do not use state taxes, he said. The Alario district is a formula for an undesirable outcome for the state, he said.
Brandt said the bill is bad legislation for a number of reasons. The public's money should not be spent on golf courses when there are so many other more important needs for the state's infrastructure and for hurricane recovery, including roads, health care and education.
The amendment also is broadly written with no time limits or state oversight. Usually a board that spends state money has some state-appointed representatives, unlike the Alario district, which is totally controlled by local authorities.
While so-called tax increment financing districts, or TIFs, are common, they typically draw on the local portion of sales taxes and other local revenue while leaving the state portion alone. For this reason, Brandt said the Alario district will set a bad precedent that lawmakers in next year's session will try to follow.
"Once you allow one special district like this, it would open the floodgates to a lot more," Brandt said.
Brandt questioned whether the Alario amendment was legal because it was not advertised in the local area, as local bills are supposed to be.
"It's just a bad way to do business," said Sen. Mike Smith, D-Winnfield, who voted against the amendment.
He said Blanco's leadership is part of the problem because she lets half a dozen key figures in the Legislature drive the process, which he finds "sickening." Conference committees are "a joke," Smith said.
While TIFs might be lucrative for urban areas with potential for growth in sales taxes, they are of little value to rural areas without that advantage, Smith said.
When the House voted on the original bill, it passed 98-0. After the conference committee added the golf course district, Alario told the House about the change, and the members approved it 55-36. The Senate voted 30-5 to approve the change.
For the golf course TIF to take effect, an agreement between the state, the parish and the course must be reached and approved by the State Bond Commission.
Posted by wst... at 08:46