Calcasieu sales taxes declining, yet better than before

Calcasieu sales taxes declining, yet better than before

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -At first glance, sales taxes in some areas of Calcasieu Parish seem to be declining. However, parish officials say the taxes are actually heading toward normal after an extraordinary time of industrial construction.

When you buy something at a store in Calcasieu, you pay about 10 percent in sales taxes that go to state and local government.

When there's a mega project, the industry pays sales tax on building materials used.

So, the last several years were huge for some taxing bodies. For example, the school board went from $13.4 million in sales tax in October 2016 to $30.4 million October in 2017, then down to $14.5 million last October.

So, though taxes are declining, school superintendent Karl Bruchhaus says they’re still up, compared to before the major industrial development.

"The new normal will be higher than the old normal for sales taxes which is good news. We try to stay very conservative when we budget sales taxes because we know it’s up and down and sort of unpredictable.

And he says the budget’s in good shape.

“So, our budget, while we’re down almost $27 million from last year at this time for the school system, we budgeted less than that so we’re actually above our budget,” he said.

Calcasieu Administrator Bryan Beam says it’s much the same for the police jury.

“That doesn’t mean we’re in a bad spot, it just means you’re coming down off some really high peak of revenue numbers. However, through 2018 and into 2019, even though it’s a little lower, it’s much higher than numbers going back to 2016 and prior,” Beam said.

Beam believes there are more big years ahead.

“I do believe we’re in a lower part right now because of construction as far as activity,” Beam said. “But there are a lot of things on the plate to come that we feel, a couple of big LNG projects that will probably come down either later this year or maybe early next.”

Lake Charles did not see large sales tax increases because the industrial complexes are built outside city limits.

"Our sales tax has remained level and that’s what we’re seeing again this fiscal year, which is what we budgeted,” said Karen Harrell, City of Lake Charles finance director.

Still, officials say the city has had steady, sustainable growth.

For more information on sales tax collections of all the governing bodies that get sales tax in Calcasieu Parish click here.

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