Oct 2, 2012 7:21 PM by Maddie Garrett
Iberia Parish landowners could get the chance to join the City of New Iberia, free of charge. It's part of proposed State Constitutional Amendment 6, which would allow the City of New Iberia to annex any property from the parish without charging the owner City property taxes.
But the owner would still pay Parish property taxes under the amendment. The initial contract would be for up to five years. After that the New Iberia City Council can vote to renew the deal for another five years.
"Bring in raw land is basically what our focus is, is to bring in land that's undeveloped and encourage developers to come in and develop that property," said New Iberia Mayor Hilda Curry. "It could be a mixed used with residential and commercial."
Curry wants to offer businesses a break to develop in her city by not requiring them to pay city property taxes.
"We're not trying to land grab, we're just trying to find a way to incentivize economic development in our community," explained Curry.
She said Amendment 6 would do just that. The city might lose out on property tax but could reap the benefits of boosting sales tax revenue.
And it's not just the City of New Iberia that has a stake in passing Amendment 6, approval could have an impact across the state.
"Could be precedent setting event, in which many other municipalities and parishes try to go after the same kind of deal," said Robert Scott, President of the Louisiana Public Affairs Research Council.
No other municipality in the state has the authority to waive ad valorem property taxes. But experts point out that it's not a perfect plan.
"The amendment itself just refers to property in general, which could mean any type of property, developed or undeveloped," said Scott.
Mayor Curry said the council will look at the properties on a case by case basis, and focus on vacant land.
"It wouldn't pay us to bring in a huge residential development that would pay no taxes and we'd have to provide services," she said.
Amendment 6 will appear on the November ballot. In order to pass, it needs a majority vote in the City of New Iberia and a majority statewide.