LMR April 2021




Published by the Louisiana Municipal Association

VOL. 86, ISSUE 4

APRIL 2021

Legislative Advocacy



Turning Trials to

Triumphs, Part II











(225) 344-5001

The Louisiana Municipal Review, the official publication of the Louisiana Municipal Association, serves as a medium for the exchange

of ideas and information for municipal officials in Louisiana. With a circulation of over 3,200, this publication is read by employees of

Louisiana municipal governments, sheriffs, parish presidents, state government officials, and members of the state legislature and

Congressional delegation, among others. Subscription rate: $24 per year; Single copy: $2. Louisiana residents,add 9% sales tax.

Rates for display, professional-listing, and classified advertising available upon request at editor@lma.org.

Statements or expressions of opinions appearing herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Louisiana

Municipal Association. Publication of any advertisement shall not be considered an endorsement of the product or service involved.

No material from this publication may be reprinted without the express permission of the editor.

Editorial offices: Louisiana Municipal Association, 700 North 10th Street, Suite 400, Post Office Box 4327, Baton Rouge, LA 70821 -

4327, editor@lma.org, www.lma.org, (225) 344-5001, (800) 234-8274, FAX (225) 344-3057.



(USPS 832-560) (ISSN 0164-3622)

Editor-in-Chief: John Gallagher jgallagher@lma.org

3 rd class postage paid at

Managing Editor: Karen Day White kwhite@lma.org

Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Postmaster – Send address changes to:

Editor: Anita Tillman atillman@lma.org


Production Coordinator: Baton Rouge Press, Inc.

Post Office Box 4327

Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4327

2020-2021 LMA EXECUTIVE BOARD (non-affiliate, non-advisory)

President – Jimmy Williams – Mayor, Sibley

District J Vice President – Rodney Grogan, Mayor, Patterson

First Vice President – Michael Chauffe – Mayor, Grosse Tete LMA Past President – Barney Arceneaux, Mayor, Gonzales

Second Vice President– Jennifer Vidrine – Mayor, Ville Platte LMA Past President – Johnny Berthelot, Councilman, Gonzales

Immediate Past President – Harry Lewis – Mayor, Rayville

LMA Past President – Glenn Brasseaux, Mayor, Carencro

District A Vice President – Peggy Adkins, Mayor, Sarepta

LMA Past President – David Butler, Mayor, Woodworth

District B Vice President – Ronny Walker, Mayor, Ruston

LMA Past President – David Camardelle, Mayor, Grand Isle

District C Vice President – Adam Holland, Mayor, Oak Grove LMA Past President – Clarence Fields, Mayor, Pineville

District D Vice President – Rick Allen, Mayor, Leesville

Vice President at Large – Mark Piazza, Mayor, Abbeville


District E Vice President – Nathan Martin, Councilman, Pineville Vice President at Large – Darnell Waites, Mayor, Baker

District F Vice President – Charles James, Mayor, Sunset

Vice President (< 1K) – Kevin Colligan, Mayor, Cankton

District G Vice President – Kenneth Stinson, Mayor, Vinton

Vice President (1K – 2.5K) – Randal Rodgers, Mayor, Stonewall

District H Vice President – David Toups, Mayor, Addis

Vice President (2.5K – 5K) – Robert Hardey, Mayor, Westlake

District I Vice President – Jean.Pelloat,.Mayor,.Madisonville

Page 2

LMR | APRIL 2021

Inside the LMA

Director’s Viewpoint



When President Biden signed the

American Rescue Plan into law

on March 11, it marked an historic

moment for local governments in

their ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time in the history of the United States, a

congressional act provides direct federal funding to all

19,000 municipal governments in our country. The State of

Louisiana and our municipalities and parishes are slated to

receive some $4.9 billion of the $1.9 trillion in aid from this

stimulus package. Many of you have seen estimates of the

funding that you will receive, and they are considerable.

While we await guidance from the U.S. Department of

Treasury on how these funds may be used, I encourage

you to brainstorm now to plan what I like to call “legacy

projects,” which will ensure that future generations will

enjoy strong infrastructure and thriving communities. A

few examples of legacy projects are improving water

and sewer infrastructure, developing and expanding

broadband, and partnering with local nonprofit

organizations to address homelessness, lift families out

of poverty, and support small businesses.

More information on the ARP may be found in the Legal

Briefs article in this issue and on the COVID-19 page of

our website. I want to express my appreciation to the

staff of the National League of Cities (NLC) who worked

tirelessly for almost a year to make the ARP a reality. The

LMA joined the 48 other municipal leagues and many of

our municipal leaders in collaborating with the NLC in

this endeavor. Your membership in NLC is what funds

these critical advocacy efforts and it pays dividends. If

you are a member of NLC, thank you; if you are not, I

encourage you to join NLC to support the important work

of advancing local government interests on Capitol Hill.

The LMA Legislative Advocacy team is gearing up for

the April 12 opening of the 2021 Regular Session of

the Louisiana Legislature. This 60-day “fiscal only”

session will focus on issues of great importance to local

governments. HB 199, a constitutional amendment

seeking to streamline sales tax collection while preserving

local authority and control will top the list. We expect

various bills that attempt to alter or repeal the inventory

tax and the current Industrial Tax Exemption Program

(ITEP). I urge you to read our feature article this month

and to keep up with legislative happenings through our

weekly legislative reports. Our urgent requests and calls

to action are sent by email, so I also urge you to assign

a staff member to monitor

your email accounts for such

activity. Grassroots advocacy by

our municipal officials is an essential

component of our success at the capitol.

So, in every call to action, our team not only describes the

issue and our position, but also equips you with talking

points for your conversations with your legislators.

I have been hearing from members throughout the state

that they are ready to begin transitioning back to inperson

gatherings. I know that it has been a long year of

video meetings, webinar events, and phone conferences.

With guidance from our Executive Board, we will begin

providing in-person educational opportunities in a safe

and responsible manner, as the threat of COVID-19 persists.

We will host a Crawfish Boil on May 5 in Baton Rouge to

commemorate a scaled-down 2021 Municipal Day. While

we will not provide transportation to the capitol because

of current restrictions, we will provide legislative briefing

materials and encourage you to visit with your legislators

at the capitol while you are in town. Please join us to enjoy

crawfish with all the trimmings while networking with

your peers and legislators. The LMA District meetings

will be held in person throughout the month of June. Our

District Vice Presidents are diligently working with our

staff to provide larger meeting areas that accommodate

social distancing, while also ensuring all essential safety

protocols for food and beverage service. Lastly, we are

moving forward with planning our 2021 LMA Annual

Convention, which is scheduled for July 29-31 in Baton

Rouge. We are working closely with Mayor Broome’s

staff to determine the appropriate parameters to operate

within. We are hopeful that our convention will include

all of the usual components that we enjoy, and we are

dedicated to doing as much as possible to safely make

that a reality. Please save the date and plan on joining us

for this pinnacle event.

More information on all of our events may be found

on our website, in our weekly e-newsletter, and in our

monthly magazine.

Thank you all again for the exceptional leadership you

have shown throughout this past year. Though the battle

against COVID-19 continues, thanks to your efforts, it

appears that the numbers are beginning to decrease.

We join every Louisiana citizen in hoping that our

governments and businesses will be fully open for the


LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 3

President’s Message



Daylight Savings Time, pollen everywhere,

green tree foliage, and 7:30

sunsets let me know one thing for

sure: change is inevitable. March 20,

2021 marked the first day of Spring.

We’ve been around long enough to know that it’s nice to

have a date to expect things to take place, but most of the

time life doesn’t work in lock step with our clocks and calendars.

The change of seasons happens when the season changes.

As we look toward the upcoming 2021 Regular Session, this

issue of the Louisiana Municipal Review focuses on LMA’s mission

of legislative advocacy. The American Rescue Plan (ARP)

is an incredible example of the power of our unified voices.

In 2020, local government’s pleas for direct funding were

mocked and vilified for months, but LMA and our members,

along with national advocates like the National League of

Cities, stood firm and kept up the fight.

LMA is strongest when we are working together towards

a common goal. The wind was knocked out of us when

the legislature reallocated millions of federal dollars that

were earmarked for local government last year. The cost of

responding to the public health emergency compounded by

multiple hurricanes threatened to leave many of our cities,

towns, and villages in dire financial straits without direct

aid from the federal government. We used every possible

avenue to lobby Congress and while it seemed to fall on deaf

ears, we didn’t give up. Then, the season changed.

What felt like cold winter nights of being shut out of relief

efforts, has finally shifted to a brighter, spring day. Today, we

are thankful that local government in Louisiana can look forward

to over $1.7 billion in direct funding to aid in recovering

from the devastating effects of last year. We can continue to

provide essential services in our communities. Capital expenditures

and infrastructure projects can move forward. We can

invest in community and economic development programs.

Municipal governments can now expedite the reopening of

local businesses by shoring up our capacity for code inspections,

planning, and permitting.

We will certainly be called to harness our collective voices

this session along with the LMA Legislative Team. When the

Call to Action goes out, please make it a top priority to get

engaged and take action. Advocacy works! The impact of

our efforts may not always be felt instantly, but we must remain

convinced that when we speak with one voice, change

is inevitable.

Notice to Those Seeking LMA Office

In accordance with Article 3 of the Constitution of the

Louisiana Municipal Association, we give the following


All individuals who intend to run for Executive Office

(President, First Vice President, and Second Vice President)

of the LMA must provide a written Letter of Notification

to the LMA Executive Director by May 1 of the year in

which they are running (must be postmarked by May 1).

Published reminders of “Notice of Office Seeking” with the

specified May 1 qualifying date will be broadcast to the

LMA membership via three sources: email, the Louisiana

Municipal Review, and also by general mailout beginning

in March/April of each year. A copy of each qualifying

letter received will be published within the July issue of

the Louisiana Municipal Review. All said individuals are

strongly encouraged to attend at least 7 of the 10 LMA

District Meetings in that year. Any individual who will not be

attending any specific LMA District Meeting is asked to place

a courtesy call to the LMA President and hosting District Vice

President in order to allow for appropriate accommodations

at that meeting. After May 1, no nominations from the floor

will be allowed at the Annual Business Meeting except under

extreme circumstances and specific criteria including but not

limited to: Death, Resignation, Non-Reelection, Health Issues,

Vacancy in Office Legal Matters: Pending Indictments, On-

Going Investigations, Criminal Activity In the event an officer

or candidate should find themselves or be found to be in a

questionable position regarding their eligibility as the Annual

Convention approaches, the LMA Active Past Presidents will

approach said officer or candidate to discuss their situation.

The LMA Active Past Presidents shall then report to the LMA

Executive Board at its meeting at the Annual Convention

(prior to the Annual Business Meeting) if nominations from

the floor will be opened or not for that given year. If more

than two individuals run for a position and one does not

receive more than 50 percent of the vote for that office, then

there shall be a run-off between the two top candidates with

the most votes. Details: If you have additional questions,

please contact the LMA staff at (225) 344-5001.

Page 4

LMR | APRIL 2021

Inside the LMA

Governor’s Column



Spring is in the air, and this is the time of

year when we look forward to enjoying

the great outdoors and all the bounty

that Louisiana has to offer. We’re blessed

to live in such a beautiful state filled

with incredible people, food and culture. As we prepare for

the upcoming legislative session, there is some good news

to report as our state and nation continue to fight COVID-19.

We have made tremendous progress which could not have

happened without all of us pulling together, and for that, I’m

grateful. At the same time, let us not forget that we have lost

more than 10,000 of our brothers and sisters to this virus. And

while we are seeing progress statewide, there are nearly 200

cases of the U.K variant throughout our state which we know

can be more serious, and there are still some regions where

cases and hospitalizations are plateauing and increasing.

That should compel everyone to keep doing all that we can

to protect each other, our families and communities. The

good news is that everyone ages 16 and older can now get

one of the three safe and effective vaccines without having a

medical condition or working in a certain occupation. We get

to determine how soon we bring Louisiana back.

On that note, the Louisiana Department of Health has

launched the Bring Back Louisiana grassroots campaign to

help increase vaccinations in communities statewide. They are

our best way to put this pandemic behind us. In just a short

time, more than 300 volunteers have signed up to help make

phone calls, knock on doors and so much more. We welcome

your help in encouraging all of your constituents to join us by

visiting lava.dhh.Louisiana.gov. To date, we have administered

over 1 million first shots and more than 600,000 people have

been fully vaccinated. Let’s keep it going.

Looking ahead to the legislative session, my budget proposal,

is balanced without any need for cuts. It includes: a pay raise

for K-12 teachers and support staff; an historic increase in

Go Grants; additional Higher Education funding including a

faculty pay increase; and full funding for senior centers and

Councils on Aging. I want to see everyone in Louisiana thrive

and have fair access to opportunity. Despite the tough year we

have faced, Moody’s Credit Rating Agency has upgraded our

credit rating from stable to positive. The Revenue Estimating

Conference has improved our revenue forecast, and we have

benefited from federal CARES funds and an increase in the

Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP. All

of this has allowed us to present a responsible budget while

maintaining critical services and programs.

Under the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Louisiana has been

allocated $3 billion, which must be spent by December 2024.

We are proposing holding back a significant amount for future

uses. This time around there are funds available to state and local

governments. There are 12 metropolitan cities in line to receive

$572 million, which will go directly to them. Smaller cities,

towns and villages, around 292 from Abbeville to Zwolle, will

share some $320 million which will be distributed by the state.

However, it is important to note that we are still waiting on both

the funds and the guidance on how those dollars can be spent.

When it comes to broadband, there is an additional $180M

in the ARP that will be coordinated by our newly established

office of Broadband Development and Connectivity. Among

other things, the current pandemic has put a spotlight on the

need to increase connectivity throughout our state and make

it affordable – especially in the rural areas. Veneeth Iyengar

will serve as the first executive director of that office and will

lead the state’s efforts in addressing the challenges around

broadband. As Veneeth has said, “This is vital to our economic

development as it encompasses nearly all sectors from

agriculture to health care.” He previously served as assistant

chief administrative officer for Baton Rouge Mayor-President

Sharon Weston Broome. He has a wealth of knowledge and

experience, and I am excited to have him join our team. He is

looking forward to connecting with the LMA in the near future.

Soon, the federal government will make approximately $7

billion available to addresses the inadequate broadband

coverage across the country. We will be working closely

with our federal partners to understand where the greatest

need exists. In the next few weeks, I will be joining the

Delta Regional Authority in announcing an exciting new

initiative designed to identify broadband accessibility in

Louisiana. However, it will only be successful if you participate.

With your help, we can make smart investments to help close

the broadband gap, making the state a more viable option for

businesses and for people to work and live.

Easter is something I know many of you looked forward to

celebrating, and this year those who have been vaccinated

were able to gather together in small groups. Just last month,

I was able to hug and share a meal with my mother for the first

time in a year so I know how much that means. The vaccines

made that possible for me, and they are doing the same for

other families. I also know there are still many questions

about them, and I cannot stress enough how important it

is to encourage or facilitate conversations between your

constituents and doctors or other trusted health care workers

who have been our heroes throughout this public health

emergency. Continue to take care of yourselves, and let’s keep

working together to get back to normal. God bless you, your

families and all of the wonderful people in your communities.

LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 5

Legal Briefs



It is certainly the biggest news for local

governments this year. The American

Rescue Plan that was signed into law

on March 11 touts direct and flexible

funding for the Thornton, over 19,000 Musso, cities, &Bellemin town, and villages

nationwide. The $1.9 trillion relief package includes a

collective $350 I approve billion this for ad state copy for and use local in the following governments. issues:

Louisiana’s local governments have been on the front lines

addressing the pandemic for over a year and have weathered

numerous devastating natural disasters to boot. For months,

the LMA has joined our state and federal partners in advocating

for both short and long-term funding as being critical to the

success and recovery of Louisiana’s citizens. Our members

provide the essential Index Listings services that citizens rely on daily –

including utilities, transportation, police and fire protection,


and more. So, the interruption in revenue and increased

expenditures brought on by the disasters of 2020 have

threatened to cripple our community infrastructures and the

fundamental well-being of Louisiana residents.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office has estimated that

for FY20/FY21, Louisiana’s local governments will lose an

estimated $715 million in revenue, and that figure does not

include the loss of critical self-generated revenue from traffic

enforcement, license fees, and other fines. A survey of our local

governments revealed that 9 out of 10 were forced to make

significant cuts to their budgets.

Since the pandemic began, more

than 433,785 Louisiana citizens have

been infected with COVID-19 and

more than 9,748 people have died.

The unemployment rate is 7.9%,

up from 5.2% before the pandemic,

and since February of 2020, over

109,879 people have been become

unemployed. Whether directly or

indirectly, forced municipal budget

reductions have unfortunately

contributed to this sad statistic.

Approximately 440,000 adults – 16%

of all adults in the state – report not

having enough food to eat, including

164,000 adults living with children.

An estimated 207,000 renters (23%

of renters) are still not caught up on

rent, while 45% of adults statewide

report having difficulty covering

normal household expenses.

Membership Directory

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By investing in Louisiana’s local governments, as well

as individuals, the ARP will shore up the governmental

infrastructure that empowers our communities to thrive. The

stimulus package is designed to provide $3.132 billion in state

fiscal relief and $1.777 billion in local fiscal relief in Louisiana,

along with over $2.653 billion in relief for K-12 schools. Funding


breakdowns for both municipal and parish governments may

Authorized Signature:

be accessed from our COVID-19 page on our website.

The plan also provides for Date: individual stimulus payments of

up to $1,400 for more than 2,861,000 adults and 1,334,100

Artwork Contact:

children, representing 91% of all adults in the state and 93%

of all children in the state. The additional relief of up to $1,600

per child through the Child Tax Credit is estimated to go to

the families of 1,028,000 children, lifting 94,000 children out of

poverty status. For 298,000 childless workers, including many

frontline workers, the plan provides additional relief of up to

nearly $1,000 through the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The massive scale of this relief package means that the

rules developed by the U.S. Department of Treasury for

implementation and administration are critical. As soon as

that information is available, we will broadcast it far and wide

through emails, our weekly e-newsletter, and our social media

platforms, so please make sure that we have your preferred

email addresses in to receive these important updates.

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707693_Thornton.indd 1

LMR | APRIL 2021

8/21/14 8:33 PM

Inside the LMA

Technical Assistance Announcement

Due to the 2021 Regular Session, the LMA legislative team

will be largely out of the office April 12 through June 10.

They will be at the Capitol focusing on the issues that affect

municipal government, and zealously advocating on behalf

of our members. Unfortunately, this means that they will not

be readily accessible by telephone to respond to requests for

technical assistance on a daily basis.

The LMA encourages you to consult with your municipal

attorney in the event of such a need. The LMA works closely

with the Louisiana City Attorney’s Association to provide continuing

education regarding matters pertaining to municipal

government. Furthermore, there is an abundance of resources

available on our website under “Publications,” including information

on the Lawrason Act, public records, open meetings,

mayor’s court, public bid law, annexation, and dual office-holding,

among other topics. You are encouraged to review that

information for assistance with any issues that you encounter.

Otherwise, please email any technical assistance questions to

John Gallagher (jgallagher@lma.org), Karen White (kwhite@

lma.org), or Brandon Brewer (bbrewer@lma.org). We will do

our best to respond to any such written inquiries in a timely

fashion. We appreciate your understanding and accommodation

during this hectic time.

As the legislative team fights to protect municipal interests

and coffers, we will keep you apprised of any relevant developments

and will reach out for your assistance when needed

through email and One Call initiatives.



7731 Office Park Blvd.

Baton Rouge, LA 70809

(225) 295-1200 (225) 295-1800 (fax)

Daniel Hebert, President

Ronnie Hebert, Chairman

Brady Sessums, Vice President


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LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 7


Louisiana Municipal Association

4 4 th Annual Municipal Day Crawfish Boil

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Drusilla Place Catering

3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809










DELEGATE CRAWFISH BOIL FEE: $30 per delegate, elected/appointed

official or municipal employee

GUEST CRAWFISH BOIL FEE: $30 per guest of delegate

NON-MEMBER CRAWFISH BOIL FEE: $50 per non-municipal participant


In registering for and attending this event, I agree to abide by state and local

health mandates as well as any rules put in place by the Louisiana Municipal

Association or event venues. I understand that by attending this event in person,

it is possible that I may be exposed to coronavirus and I hereby assume that risk.




A block of rooms has been reserved at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at a rate of $114.95

Single/Double. Please call (225) 925- 2244 to make your reservations and mention

that you are with Louisiana Municipal Association’s Municipal Day to secure this

special rate. The group code for reservations is ‘LMA’. Hotel check- in time is

4:00 p.m. and check- out is 11:00 a.m. unless special arrangements are made in



Registration fees are non-refundable. An administrative fee of $10 per

registration will be charged for all cancellations, including medical emergencies.

No refunds will be given after April 21 (two weeks prior to the start of the event).

Refunds will be issued only if the LMA office receives your cancellation request

in the form of a letter on your official letterhead mailed, emailed, faxed, or

delivered to our office with a postmark date no later than April 21. Telephone

requests for refunds are not accepted. There will be no exceptions to this policy.

Complete this form and return with

your registration fee payment in full,

no later than April 21, 2021 .

Registration forms sent without

payment in full will not be



Louisiana Municipal Association

Municipal Day

P.O. Box 4327

Baton Rouge, LA 70821




Contact: Nikki Samrow, P.O. Box 4327, Baton Rouge, LA 70821, (225) 344- 5001 Phone, (225) 344- 3057 Fax, nsamrow@lma.org

Page 8

LMR | APRIL 2021


Legislative Advocacy Takes Center Stage

The word “lobbyist” carries a negative connotation

these days, and a glance at lobbyist

spending and outcomes demonstrates why.

On Capitol Hill, nearly 12,000 lobbyists spend

over $3 billion per year to influence congressional

and executive leaders; and at the Capitol

in Baton Rouge, Louisiana lobbyists spend

around half a million each year. It is no wonder

that Will Rogers famously quipped, “Lobbyists

have more offices in the Washington than the

President. You see, the President only tells

Congress what they should do. Lobbyists tell

‘em what they will do.”

Local government advocates do not have the

luxury of exorbitant spending due to practical,

fiscal, and ethical constraints. Instead, those of

us who fight for municipal government autonomy,

authority, and funding must work harder

and smarter. We harness technology, seek

creative advocacy partners, and, most importantly,

secure the legislative engagement of

our municipal leaders. In a legislative world of

spending Goliaths, we Davids must aim carefully

and use our pebbles strategically.

Years ago, an odd-year, fiscal-only legislative

session may have been a largely technical endeavor

resulting in a quiet advocacy year for

local governments. Welcome to 2021 - strap

on your safety belts.

Our well-articulated mantras have not

changed: all politics is local, restoring local

control should be a bipartisan goal, and locals

know best how to run their affairs and tailor

solutions for their issues. What makes this year

different from those of recent memory are the

varied but coordinated attempts by legislative

leaders to reform Louisiana’s tax system

to purportedly make Louisiana more business


Just the Facts

Before we talk about what legislative efforts

will attempt to do regarding tax reform this

year, it is important to address what legislators

are not doing along those lines.

There are currently over 200 tax exemptions

and exclusions scattered in our law and constitution.

Some of these exemptions and exclusions

are mandatory for local governments,

and some local governments may opt into;

LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 9

some only apply to the state and some only apply to local

governments. Louisiana undoubtedly has one of the most

convoluted sales tax systems in the country, yet even as some

legislators bemoan the complexity of the system, they continue

to introduce legislation to create even more specialized

tax exemptions for particular industries or circumstances.

These exemptions are estimated to cost local governments

over $1.3 billion in lost tax revenue per year, and the latest

Louisiana Tax Exemption Budget estimates that these exemptions

cost state government over $6.6 billion per year, resulting

in a collective annual revenue loss of around $8 billion

per year.

By now, you have heard about attempts to streamline sales

tax collection through a single online portal (discussed further

below). Many advocates of the concept assert that doing

so will significantly improve Louisiana’s tax friendliness and

thus our scores with national groups such as the Council on

State Taxation and the Tax Foundation. But until the Louisiana

legislature rolls up its sleeves, deals with these hundreds

of sales tax exemptions and exclusions, and brings uniformity

to Louisiana’s complicated tax system, the needle will move

very little in the realm of our sales tax standing.

To demonstrate the point, on October 28, 2015, then Director

of State Projects for the Tax Foundation, Scott Drenkard,

testified before the Sales Tax Streamlining and Modernization

Commission. Mr. Drenkard testified under oath that the administration

of Louisiana state and local sales taxes does not

form any part of the Tax Foundation’s formulary for deriving

our state score and ranking. Further, when asked directly if

centralizing our divergent state and local sales tax collection

would improve our score in any way, Mr. Drenkard unequivocally

responded, “No.”

You may also hear legislators assert that centralizing sales tax

administration is going to result in a financial reward as Louisiana



enabling Louisiana

to collect

internet sales taxes.

That demands


On June 21, 2018,

the US Supreme

Court issued their

decision in South

Dakota v. Wayfair,

Inc., effectively

allowing for collection

of internet

sales taxes from

dealers without a

physical presence

in the state. In finding South Dakota’s tax scheme to be constitutional,

SCOTUS relied heavily on the fact that the state

had adopted the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement

(or SSUTA). One of the core demands of the SSUTA is that the

state must have uniform state and local tax bases, along with

simplified rates. Louisiana has not adopted the SSUTA, and

not only are there no current legislative attempts to simplify

Louisiana’s sales tax system, but there are currently a dozen

proposed bills this session that would create additional sales

tax exemptions, complicating the system even further.

Despite this complexity, the Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission

for Remote Sellers (“Remote Sellers Commission”), a

local government-driven creation, has been busy checking

as many Wayfair boxes as possible. The Remote Sellers Commission

has tackled the difficult job of creating a matrix that

geo-maps all taxing authorities, assigning the exact tax rates

with exemptions/exclusions layered thereon at the points of

sale for remote purchases, making taxpayer reporting and remittance

a simple proposition. Their online portal launched

in earnest on July 1, 2020. Since then, the Commission has

collected around $180 million in internet sales taxes, and

registration and compliance continue to build each month.

While one may speculate why attempts to simplify Louisiana’s

sales tax system are not part of this session’s efforts, it is a historical

fact that local governments have aggressively worked

to bring uniformity and simplicity to the system that they

inherited. Those efforts include enacting the Uniform Local

Sales Tax Code (ULSTC), supporting a single parish collector

system, engaging in the Louisiana Sales Tax Streamlining and

Modernization Commission (STSMC), and creating the Louisiana

Uniform Local Sales Tax Board (LULST).

Streamlined State and Local Sales and Use Tax Collection

Which leads us to the most publicized legislative issue of the

2021 Regular Session: HB 199 by Speaker of the House Clay

Schexnayder. This bill arises from the HR 31 study group of

2020, which unanimously approved the concept of streamlining

the collection of sales and use taxes.

The LMA joined other local government stakeholders (Police

Jury Association of Louisiana, Louisiana School Boards Association,

Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association) at the Speaker’s request

to work in good faith toward consensus language for such a

constitutional amendment. The language proposed by these

local government association leaders would provide critical

safeguards to preserve local government authority.

After considering this input, Speaker Schexnayder filed HB

199 on March 24. If HB 199 passes, it would be presented

to voters statewide for approval in 2022. Here is a summary

of what the bill will do if it stays in its current form and if it is

ultimately approved by voters:

• It creates a political subdivision named the “State and Local

Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission”

Page 10

LMR | APRIL 2021


• The composition of the commission’s 8-member governing

body is similar to the makeup of the Remote Sellers

Commission (reference above)

• The LMA has a guaranteed appointee on the board, and

the first chairman of the commission’s board will be a local


• There are three other local reps (see associations above),

the Secretary of the Department of Revenue, and then

appointees by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and

President of the Senate

• The administrative and operational rules of the commission

require a 2/3 vote of board members

• Tax returns and tax monies (which shall always remain

the property of the taxing authority) shall be promptly

remitted to the single parish collectors

• The commission will succeed both the Remote Sellers

Commission and the Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax

Board, absorbing all their authorities, including:

o becoming the single entity for the issuance of tax policy


o inheriting the current authority of the Remote Seller’s

Commission to audit remote dealers, and

o inheriting the current work of the Louisiana Uniform

Local Sales Tax Board to create a streamlined audit

process for taxpayers with physical presence in the


• The statutory component that provides all the details regarding

implementation of this conceptual commission

requires a 2/3 vote of each house of the legislature

• Unless and until that statutory companion is enacted,

sales tax collections shall continue to be conducted as

they are currently

Arguably, this new commission would also absorb other important

existing tools. Since 2008, Louisiana businesses with a

physical nexus in the state (non-remote or “brick-and-mortar”

businesses) have had the ability to file and remit their sales

taxes online for all 64 parishes and the state through a single

online platform called “Parish E-file.” The platform and system

are governed by a five-member advisory committee (Uniform

Electronic Local Return and Remittance Advisory Committee)

comprised of representatives of local governments, CPAs, tax

collectors, retailers, and LABI. To date, the Parish E-file site has

processed well over $20 billion in sales tax remittances.

The operations of this platform would be subsumed into the

new streamlined commission.

The Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax Board has developed a

wealth of resources for taxpayers and taxing authorities since

its inception in 2017. It provides expert tax opinions and advice

and has developed processes for taxpayers to pay past

due taxes with reduced or waived penalties (VDA) and to file

multi-parish refund claims. Of paramount importance, the

LULST has addressed a decades-old complaint by businesses

who lament that there is no reliable way to know the applicable

tax rates by location. The Tax Rate Lookup Application is

a user-friendly, free online tool that allows taxpayers to find

precise sales tax rate information either by single inquiry or in

bulk via software interface. Hopefully, this lookup tool would

also be incorporated into the new central sales tax administrative


There is a myriad of other ancillary issues that have not been

fully explored, such as what impact the creation of this commission

would have on bonded indebtedness and bond covenants.

In this age, it is also important to consider what safeguards

would be offered in the event that the central collector

of all state and local sales taxes was subject to a cyberattack.

A ransomware attack could simultaneously freeze the flow of

sales tax revenue for the state, 64 parishes, 303 municipalities,

and other taxing authorities.

The outcome of HB 199 is uncertain at this time, but most

agree that there will be multiple attempts to modify this proposed

constitutional amendment as it makes its way through

the legislative process. Our pledge is to keep our members

informed at every step.

Please review HB 199 by visiting the legislative website at

www.legis.la.gov and provide us with your thoughts and feedback

on this critical issue.

Inventory Tax and ITEP

In 2016, Governor Edwards used his executive authority to

grant local governments a definitive voice in granting property

tax exemption under the Louisiana Industrial Ad Valorem

Tax Exemption Program (ITEP). Since then, there have been

legislative attempts to limit or rescind that authority. The incentive

program administered by Louisiana Economic Development

(LED) is available to manufacturers new to Louisiana

and to existing manufacturers in Louisiana who engage in

new investments to existing facilities. Upon local approval,

ITEP now offers an 80% property tax abatement for an initial

term of five years with the possibility of a renewal for five additional

years at 80%. LED has developed an efficient process

for those local governments affected by ITEP applications to

either approve or deny the manufacturer’s application based

on cogent criteria, including fiscal impact, job creation, and

community benefit. Prior to 2016, the program provided

100% exemption of local property taxes for 10 years with no

local input.

Although these are local property taxes and although over

90% of all ITEP applications since 2016 have been approved,

opponents to local input assert that the current system is just

too burdensome and unpredictable. Many favor a return to

when Louisiana was the outlier in the nation as the only state

in which those local governments had no say-so in whether

LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 11

the exemption was granted.

Most other southern states have far more restrictive programs

for granting such an exemption. Arkansas generally

caps exemptions at 65% and only allows more for extremely

competitive projects, and neither Mississippi nor Alabama

allow for school district property taxes to be exempted under

their programs. In Texas, the property tax limitation on

school millages requires review by the State Comptroller

before local consideration; and when the property tax limitation

is approved for school millages, counties are made

whole for lost property tax revenues by the state through

reimbursement claims made through the Texas Education

Agency. Even the Tax Foundation described Louisiana’s ITEP

as, “unusually generous.”

This session, instead of attempting to rescind local input in

ITEP applications, it appears that legislative leaders may offer

to trade constitutional protection of local input on ITEP and

a cap on ITEP exemption in exchange for the abolition of the

much-maligned inventory tax on property.

The ad valorem tax on property, including inventory, is a

critical component of local government revenue, and a necessity

in funding essential local services: education, fire and

police protection, transportation infrastructure, and utilities,

to name a few. This tax was expressly approved by voters and

has been in place since the 1930s. The inventory tax credit,

on the other hand, is a legislative creation that was enacted

some 60 years later. Any budgetary difficulties suffered by the

state related to this ad valorem tax is due to the state’s desire

to issue the credit, not the tax itself.

Any attempt to “repeal” the inventory tax – creating yet another

exemption to ad valorem taxation – is inherently problematic

because of the diversity among local government

revenue bases, as well as the Minimum Foundation Program

formula that supports public education. Proposing a constitutionally

protected cap on ITEP as a backfill for the massive

revenue losses from abolishing the inventory tax will likely be

no different, though local government stakeholders await the

fiscal impact studies associated with that proposal.

Many attempts at inventory tax elimination have amounted

to shifting the tax burden from businesses to other taxpayers.

When the Louisiana Tax Commission studied possible

repeal-and-replace solutions, Chairman Lawrence Chehardy

concluded, “It’s our opinion that there is no workable course

to follow in which the lost revenue to local government can

be replaced in a way that is practical and affordable to other


You Are Our Most Valued Advocacy Partners

Though this is a fiscal session, there may be as many at 720 bills

of general subject matter, so we are mindful of preemption

efforts to limit or abolish local authority regarding regulatory

matters. Local leaders are directly accountable to their constituent


and neighbors,

so they are in the

best position to

tailor local policies

and solutions.


the fiscal preemptions


from mandatory

tax exemptions/

exclusions are

especially troubling


the many

unfunded mandates


on local governments.

As municipal


and leaders, you

feel this more

acutely than

most. It is that

deep connection

that makes

your legislative

messaging so


Legislative advocacy is a core mission of the LMA, and we are

committed to educating both legislators and the public on

the importance of municipal government and the challenges

faced by local leaders. The engagement of our members with

their legislators, however, is a crucial part of our success at

the Capitol.

Throughout the year – but particularly during legislative sessions

– you may receive Call to Action emails from the LMA

Legislative Advocacy Team. We sincerely appreciate your response

and immediate contact with your representatives and

senators, and the results of your participation are tangible. If

you are at the Capitol on a legislative matter, please let any

member of the LMA Legislative Advocacy Team know, so that

we can visit with you and acknowledge your participation.

This year, we will celebrate our annual LMA Municipal Day

and Crawfish Boil on May 5 in Baton Rouge. This occasion

provides a perfect opportunity for our members to visit with

their legislative delegation while receiving important legislative

briefings and lobbying tips from our team. In the meantime,

you can access all legislation online at the Louisiana

Legislature’s website, www.legis.la.gov, and can view which

instruments we are tracking under the Legislative Advocacy

tab at www.lma.org.

Page 12

LMR | APRIL 2021


USDA Broadband Grants – Success for Grosse Tete – Opportunity for You.

Grosse Tete Breaks Ground on Broadband Project

(L to R): Grosse Tete Mayor Michael Chauffe; Grosse Tete Alderman Marcus Hill; Grosse Tete Alderwoman Jeanie David; Grosse Tete Alderman Clint

Seneca; Bryan Fisher, Star Communications; and George Buchan, V1 Fiber.

LMA 2020 Community Achievement Award “Best in

Show” winner, the Village of Grosse Tete, is pleased

to announce the groundbreaking of the area’s USDA

funded broadband project. LMA First Vice President,

Mayor Michael Chauffe of Grosse Tete, is optimistic and

pleased with the progress and noted: “Faster internet

speeds will soon be a reality for residents in Grosse Tete,

Rosedale, Ramah, Bayou Blue and surrounding areas.”

In January of 2020, the USDA announced an award of

$15.5 Million (half grant / half loan) that will assist in

rolling out more than 200 miles of fiber to help 2,600

homes, 12 businesses, and 16 farms in the parishes of

Pointe Coupee, Iberville, and St. Landry Parishes. Grosse

Tete led the way in partnering with local provider Star

Communications to apply for and receive the assistance

from USDA. According to Tim May, General Manager

for Star Communications, “We are pleased to announce

the funding is now available for construction to begin

in 5 phases. Each phase has a different scope and

sequence with many of the phases under construction

simultaneously. We are still waiting on permits in a

couple of areas, but we are ready to begin construction

as soon as the permits are issued.”

The USDA’s ReConnect award covers mainline fiber as

well as drops to homes within the designated areas.

Star Communications customers within the ReConnect

areas will be automatically switched over to fiber optic

cable. Non-Subscribers of Star Communications that live

within the awarded areas, have the option to have fiber

optics built to their home with no installation cost. This

does not mean that residents are bound to any service

agreement. It just means fiber is available in the future,

should residents ever wish to subscribe to fiber service.

Congratulations to Mayor Chauffe and to the citizens of

Grosse Tete and surrounding areas who will soon have

top quality access to Broadband.

LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 13

1-20 Corridor Broadband Funding Meetings – April 20, 2021

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, Senator Bill Cassidy, the LMA,

LMA District B Vice President/Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker,

and LMA District C Vice President/Oak Grove Mayor Adam

Holland are partnering to bring together federal and state

partners to show municipalities what federal funds are

available for broadband, and how to apply for those funds.

These meetings will focus on funding for municipalities

and areas along the Interstate 20 corridor. However, the

funding and information are available to all Louisiana

municipalities and all are welcome to participate in the

Ruston meeting remotely. The goal is to relay practical

information so that a municipality knows how to proceed

with funding applications.


• Welcome from City of Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker/

Town of Oak Grove Mayor Adam Holland and LMA

Executive Director, John Gallagher

• Video Remarks from Senator Bill Cassidy - Vision for

Rural Broadband in Louisiana

• Rural Broadband Success Story from Grosse Tete

Mayor Michael Chauffe

• Remarks from Veneeth Iyengar, Executive Director,

Louisiana Office of Broadband Development and


• Presentation from Broadband USA (U.S. Dept of

Commerce) - General Overview of Steps for Locals

Mayor’s Court Guide to

Court Costs Submission

The LMA is proud to present our newest publication,

Mayor’s Court Guide to Court Costs Submission, which is

designed to assist our municipalities with mayor’s courts

to understand the scope of permissive and mandatory

fees statewide, including fees associated with specific

jurisdictions. The guide also contains specific instructions

regarding the remittance of costs to third parties, as well as

citations to the law and Attorney General Opinions.

A copy of the guide will be forwarded to every municipality

with a mayor’s court,

along with important information

about the reporting

of court costs and fees. You

may access the cost guide

at anytime on the LMA’s


If you have any questions,

please contact Richard Williams

at rwilliams@lma.org or at


Governments to Apply for Broadband Funding

• Presentation from Bill Vogt, USDA Rural Broadband

Office - What Fund are Available from USDA

Programs and How to Apply

• Questions and Answers

Information regarding virtual participation will be

forwarded to LMA members via electronic communication

prior to the meetings.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021; 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Ruston Civic Center; 401 N. Trenton Street, Ruston, LA

Hosted by Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker

RSVP to Haley Perot at 318-251-8623 or hperot@ruston.org

Oak Grove:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021; 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Fiske Theatre, 306 East Main Street, Oak Grove, LA

Hosted by Oak Grove Mayor Adam Holland

RSVP to Heather Owens at heather@townofoakgrove.com

Before digging, call 811

at least two full work days in advance.

That’s all it takes to notify Louisiana 811

members, so they can mark nearby utility

lines and pipelines to prevent injury and

costly accidents.


Call or click www.Louisiana811.com

Page 14

LMR | APRIL 2021


Turning Trials into Triumphs, Part II

Last month, we launched this recurring series in which we

share stories about overcoming the challenges presented

by COVID-19 and other disasters. We conclude our staff

narratives this month by spotlighting the good work of our

subsidiaries, RMI and LaMATS. We would love to hear your

stories of triumph, so please share those with us, including

photographs if possible.


In recent years, LaMATS

has developed and

deployed key on-line

systems that improve

the efficiency of

collecting insurance

premium taxes (IPT), delinquent utility debt, and provide

for electronic procurement. These web-based portals

and platforms proved to be critical as the staff faced the

dynamic work environment brought about by the virus. The

215 municipalities that rely on LaMATS for collecting and

processing their taxes ($24+M last year), did not experience

any delays in receiving this critical source of revenue.

LaMATS launched its Purchasing Services division (LPS) in

2018 to provide more and better-priced options to meet

municipalities’ procurement needs. They had two years before

the pandemic took hold to connect with vendors and develop

contracts and protocols—this proved pivotal when demand

suddenly went through the roof.

The LaMATS team heard

first from their own Board

members, as Louisiana local

governments began to

appreciate the scope of the

coming crisis. The mayors,

councilpersons and clerks

who direct LaMATS’ work

saw the problems firsthand and knew that they could meet

the unprecedented statewide needs for Personal Protective

Equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, custom signage and

other specialty items that were getting harder to find by the


LaMATS was on it. Even though the staff was also constrained

by remote work and safety protocols, they quickly developed

a new online shopping portal to make products and services

more accessible. Additionally, they pursued new contracts

with PPE vendors and others (even as prices fluctuated daily),

collected and warehoused the shipped items and often drove

them to communities in need.

LaMATS Board President and LMA’s Second Vice President,

Mayor Jennifer Vidrine, commended the efforts of the LaMATS

team. “They really put the hours in to research the best prices

and fastest delivery options for us when things were almost

getting out of hand,” she said. “We are all grateful for their

work and willingness to literally go the extra mile to serve!”

With new online tools and a pipeline of contracts now in

place, the pandemic has actually improved much of LaMATS’

process by streamlining the work and expanding their reach.

They would never ask for a repeat of this (or any) crisis, but a

silver lining is always welcome!

RMI Faces Pandemic Issues Head-On

In the past, Jerry Cronin

(then General Manager,

now General Manager

Emeritus) and the RMI

team had to respond to

short-term interruptions

due to weather, but the

solutions to those circumstances in no way compared to the

potential long-term issues brought on by the pandemic.

Not only did RMI have to implement procedures necessary to

carry out their legal requirements, but they were required to

consider and take additional steps to protect the health of our


The ability to work from remote locations was available on

a very limited basis, so the need to expand that capability

had to be resolved quickly. Because of the functionality of

our workspace, employees were able to socially distance, but

an immediate survey of personnel revealed that numerous

employees serving in the most critical roles had issues with

heightened risk because of underlying medical issues and/

or presence within their household of persons with high-risk

issues. This challenge was met thanks to the rapid response

of our IT team, who quickly implemented remote access

protocols so that critical daily functions could effectively

continue with minimum interruption.

Some RMI operations could be carried out remotely, so the

RMI team collaborated to establish a schedule for physical

office presence that accommodated each task timely while

preserving employee safety.

To further safeguard employees, RMI established a strict

mitigation protocol that captured all recommended safety

measures such as directing that any employee feeling ill not

report to work; providing materials to wipe down the work

areas, hand sanitizers, and masks; taking each employee’s

temperature upon arriving at work; closing break areas

and allowing food consumption in individual work areas;

implementing quarantine requirements on anyone who

had been exposed to the virus; and mandating negative test

results before return, if appropriate This successful strategy

LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 15

was also employed by the LMA, and resulted in overall

successful mitigation of the viral threat within RMI.

General Manager Patrick Cronin reflected on the past year

with Jerry, who affirmed that LaMATS was incredibly helpful

by providing the supplies needed to implement these

safeguards, and that the cooperative spirit of RMI employees

allowed the organization to turn on a dime as needed to

adapt to a new circumstance. Patrick appreciates that

technology has provided solutions to minimize litigation

delays and provide continuity of operations, so he is grateful

that the systems are now in place in the event of other crises.

Walking the Path Together (While Making It Safer)

While the individual efforts of both subsidiaries are

exemplary, a recent partnership between LaMATS and RMI

perfectly illustrates how collaboration gives rise to innovation.

According to the National Safety Council, an older adult dies

from a trip and fall every 20 minutes. A portion of those

falls will inevitably occur on concrete city sidewalks, which

can buckle and break in just a few years, regardless how

well made. For Louisianans, who seek more time outdoors

as spring arrives and COVID risk slowly retreats, this can

only mean increased use of public rights of way and greater

responsibility for municipalities to keep them safe.

LaMATS Purchasing

Services (LPS)

contracts with top

statewide vendor

of sidewalk repair

services, Precision

Concrete Cutting of Louisiana and Mississippi (PCC), which

offers professional damage assessments for City Council

reviews and ADA-compliant repair of buckled and broken

concrete walks, using an efficient, proprietary process and


LaMATS Executive Director, Cliff Palmer, noted the service’s

three decades of demonstrated success in reducing trip

hazards and the importance of making Louisianans safer in

their home cities. “Mitigating the risks of degraded sidewalks

is not just the right thing to do, it’s federally mandated and

involves considerable civil liability besides,” cautioned Palmer.

“The average lawsuit stemming from a sidewalk fall is settled

between $25,000 and $40,000 and can exceed a quartermillion

in damages owed by local government.”

Risk Management Inc. (RMI) Executive Director, Patrick Cronin,

agrees: “Most of the hundreds of Louisiana local governments

simply can’t afford to take that risk.” Cronin, who has

witnessed the PCC process in action, was impressed by the

technology and the final repairs. “Precision Concrete Cutting

does an outstanding job,” he said. “We’re delighted, as Risk

Management specialists, to join LaMATS in our support of this

fine company’s work and mission.”

RMI, the wholly owned LMA subsidiary, provides selffunded

indemnity and benefit programs used by

Louisiana municipalities (e.g., General Liability, Workman’s

Compensation, and staff Health and Wellness programs),

and assists in the development of new programs to meet

the needs of municipal


In the coming year,

RMI will join LaMATS in

joint promotions and

demonstrations of the PCC

process and help to make this

effective and affordable service

available to all Louisiana local

governments. To schedule a

demo or on-site assessment

of city properties, contact Cliff

Palmer at (225) 344-3057.

Page 16

LMR | APRIL 2021

A Word from

Our Affiliates

Sharron Kennedy

RMI Spotlight

We are excited to recognize Sharron Kennedy, RMI Casualty Claims

Representative, for achieving her Chartered Property Casualty

Underwriter designation. The Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter

designation is a rigorous insurance and risk-related curriculum of a

minimum of eight detailed exams. Only four percent (4%) of insurance

professionals achieve this designation.

Congratulations Sharron!

Conference Agenda

10:00 a.m. LAMSA Board Meeting

Lunch on your own

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

1:00 p.m. Bossier City Museum tour

Meet in lobby for tour at 1:00.

4:30 p.m. Return to hotel

6:00 p.m. Dinner on your own

Thursday, May 6, 2021

7:00 – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast/Registration

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. President's Welcome &


Yvonne Lewis, CMA, LAMSA President

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. Welcome

Mayor Lorenz Walker

Bossier City

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Mandatory Sexual

Harassment Prevention

Ms. Janet Vincent Certified Facilitator

Project Coordinator, City of DeRidder

10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Break

10:15 – 11:15 a.m. Building A Better You

Carl Qualls, Shreveport LA

Ziglar Legacy Certified Trainer

11:15 – 12:15 p.m. Annual Business Meeting and

Election of Officers,

CMA Awards Recertifications,

Sponsor Highlights

12:15 – 1:30 p.m. Luncheon

1:30 – 2:15 p.m.

Risks and Long-Term Effects

of Bullying in the Workplace

Rechelle Simmone and Camilla Brown

Partners Against Bullying, Houma, LA

2:15 – 3:15 p.m. Cybersecurity: Protecting

Your City and You

Mr. James Waskom, Director

Governor’s Office of Homeland


3:15 – 3:30 p.m. Break

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Discovering the Value of Time


Marlaine Peachey, Regional Speaker


Executive Assistant to the Mayor of


Dinner on your own

Friday, May 7, 2021

7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast

8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Mayor's Panel

10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Break

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Evaluations, Gift Exchange

Conference Certificates

10:30 – 12 Noon Live Refreshed

Dr. Dennis Swanberg

Teacher, Motivational Speaker

Swanberg Ministries

12 Noon Adjournment, Yvonne Lewis,

CMA, LAMSA President

LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 17


General’s Opinions


Prohibited Donations

Opinion: 20-0123 The sale or donation

of a retired K9 to the K9’s handler does

not violate La. Const. art. VII § 14. Still,

the Slidell Police Department must

adhere to the mandates set forth in La.

R.S. 33:4712 in the sale or donation of

movable property. Released: 3/9/2021

Elected Official Compensation

Opinion: 20-0081 Reducing the health

insurance benefit of the Town Council constitutes a reduction

in compensation, and is therefore prohibited during term of

office pursuant to La.Const. art. VI, § 12, art. X, § 23 and La. R.S.

33:404.1 Released: 3/10/2021


Opinion: 21-0005 Fire, police and EMS agencies may utilize

La. R.S. 33:1324, under the Local Services Law, or La. R.S.

38:321.1, under the Louisiana Public Bid Law, as an additional

procurement method in order to purchase materials and

supplies, provided all relevant steps are followed. However,

under the current legislation, they may not engage in

qualified group purchasing organization methods that are

solely available to hospitals or schools. Released: 3/11/2021

MERS Director


Warren Ponder retired on

March 1 from his position

as Executive Director of

the Municipal Employee’s

Retirement System (MERS).

He began his career at MERS

in 2013 as General Counsel

and was called upon to serve

as Executive Director just two

years later, under extremely

Warren Ponder

challenging circumstances.

Not only did he restructure the system’s investment

portfolio, but the assets of MERS grew to over one

billion dollars under his watch. Mr. Ponder provided

dedicated and unwavering service to MERS and we

wish him well as he enjoys retirement.

Maris E. LeBlanc has taken over as Executive

Director of MERS. She may be reached at maris@

mersla.com or by phone (225) 925-4810 or toll free

at (800) 820-1137.

Page 18

LMR | APRIL 2021

Partner Insight


community treasure

“Bozz” Baucum

and his popular


restaurant Marilynn’s

Place (named after his

Momma) recently held

a socially distanced

Crawfish Boil to the

tunes of local band

“Easy Money.”

Traveler Optimism on the Rise!


As the COVID-19 restrictions begin

to loosen, and more residents

receive their vaccinations,

expect more. More music. More

conventions and conferences. More

sporting events, fairs and festivals.

And more of the general sights and

sounds that make Louisiana so unique. The Louisiana

Office of Tourism is working hard to push Louisiana as

the go-to destination for travelers near and far.

Louisiana’s plan to bring back tourism in the state

is called “The Sunshine Plan,” a comprehensive and

targeted plan, driven by consumer

travel confidence. As people

become more confident and

eager to travel, “The Sunshine

Plan” is designed to boost traveler

confidence and attract visitors

ready to come to Louisiana.

Now, here’s the good news: recently

released tourism trends show that 84% of American

travelers report that they plan to travel within the next

six months. That’s up from 65% in mid-January. This is


Owners Jeff and

Libby Landry are

excited to resume

outdoor Saturday

concerts at Landry’s

Vineyards in West

Monroe again. Visitors

here can enjoy an

afternoon of fun with

family and friends,

listen to local music,

eat Cajun food, and

sample wonderful

Landry Vineyards


LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 19


the third wave in a row at over 80%. This information

comes from the latest Travel Sentiment survey.

Lifting restrictions and increased consumer confidence

are welcomed boosts for tourism partners across the

state. Although we are not out of the woods yet, we

are seeing signs of tourism returning. One of the most

welcomed signs is live music at local venues. Expect to

see more as restrictions continue to lift.

Rock n’ Bowl in Lafayette has resumed live music weekends

featuring great Louisiana musicians including Grammy Award

winning artist Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band.

With lifting restrictions and live music in the mix, there’s

no better time than now to plan your next Louisiana

Staycation. Go to www.LouisianaIsATrip.com. Then, tell you

friends and family. You won’t be disappointed!

I filled you in last month on a

small snag that temporarily

halted video poker payments

to local governments.

I’m happy to report

that the snag has been

fixed and payments can


Please allow me to quickly

bring you up to speed on

this issue in case you missed last

month’s column.

Treasury Notes

Legislature Reaches

Solution on Video Poker




We thought video poker revenue would drop during

the pandemic. It didn’t. In fact, video poker revenue

at truck stops and racetracks far exceeded our


This is great news for local governments and district

attorneys’ offices since they receive 25% of video

poker revenue. We are averaging collections of $4.47

million per month in video poker revenue for local governments

and district attorneys’ offices. First, though,

we had to iron out a small wrinkle.

The Louisiana Legislature appropriated $16.4 million in

video poker revenue for local governments. This was

a significant drop from the $38 million distributed to

local governments the previous year. But, like I said,

we thought the pandemic would diminish this revenue


We ended up distributing that $16.4 million to you by

December 2020 with more revenue continuing to come

in. We couldn’t send the additional revenue to you because

we lacked the budget authority.

Fortunately, there was an easy solution. I asked the legislative

budget committee to increase budget authority.

My request was approved on Feb. 26.

We now can resume distributions of video poker collections

to the parishes or municipalities that have video

poker machines. As of Feb. 1, we’ve collected $29.1

million in revenue.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with

any concerns you have.

Page 20

LMR | APRIL 2021





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LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 21

There Are Options When Borrowing Funds


Many municipalities have essential projects that they simply

cannot afford without obtaining a loan, and this applies to

both small and large entities. These projects include new or

improved streets and roads, roundabouts, water and sewer

facilities, or buildings, just to name a few. The opportunity to

refinance those loans to obtain better rates or extend the term

when necessary are also very important.

Depending on the size of the financing and the number of years

needed to repay the debt, there are multiple options relative

to accessing funds. Banks, the Louisiana Community Development

Authority (LCDA), and the bond market are the primary

lenders that meet the needs of municipalities.


Specializing in Bond Issues and Financing

A bank will typically make loans for 15 years or less. If you have

a good banking relationship, and particularly one where you

have a depository relationship and handles most of your banking

needs, this is a good place to start. If you would like to expand

the number of participating banks, a request for proposals

may be sent to numerous banks. They can help with smaller

loans up to about $15,000,000.

The LCDA has some special legal abilities that allow a borrower

to pledge all lawfully available funds for repayment of the loan.

Lawfully available funds include all funds of a municipality,

except those that are restricted by law or a vote of the people

for specific purposes. This gives a lender a broader source of

repayment than just a particular tax or fee. The LCDA is also a

frequent issuer of debt and is well established in the financial

industry. This is particularly helpful to governments that do not

often issue debt and are not well known to lenders. The LCDA

actually issues the debt and enters into a loan agreement with

the municipality.


L. Gordon King

Dede Riggins

Nnamdi I. Thompson

Shaun B. Toups

David M. Medlin

James R. Ryan

Stephen Holley

(MSRB Registered Municipal Advisors)

700 North 10 th Street Annex Bldg.

Baton Rouge, LA 70802

(225) 344‐2098 (Phone) (225) 344‐5952 (Fax)

gcla@gc‐la.net (email)


Modern day government has become a large financial

enterprise, handling millions of dollars and facing

service and revenue pressures. The governing

authority and Administrator(s) face complex financial

decisions ranging from the impact of property and

sales taxes to the financing of capital improvements.

As government finance has become more complex,

the need for financial advice to base decisions upon

has. The services of an expert Municipal Advisor are

being used by more and more grown governmental


A Municipal Advisor (or “MA”) serves as a

consultant advising the governing authority on

matters relating to the following:

Financial feasibility of projects;

Total cost analysis of financing alternatives;

Review of capital improvement financing


Advice on the structuring and marketing of debt


The MA is an integral member of the governing

authority’s management team, providing advice and

analysis to assist in financial decision‐making.



• Analyzing available alternatives in relation to

cost to the governing authority and providing

financial guidance and recommendations;

• Analyzing from a cost/benefit standpoint the

use of incentives (free land, subsidy of bond

issues, utility improvements) to attract


• Providing a detailed upfront and long‐term

financial analysis of costs to the governing

authority versus benefits of the specific

project; and

• Serving as an economic development finance

resource for the Governing Authority.

We Have The Experience!

Page 22

LMR | APRIL 2021

Partner Insight

2021 Agriculture Outlook


A pandemic, multiple hurricanes and

an ice storm are just some of the

devastating events our agricultural

producers have faced in the past year

affecting more than one million acres

of production.

Following the recent ice storm in February,

I had an opportunity to visit the

heart of our plant nurseries located in

Central Louisiana, specifically the community of Forest


While the regional economic development office and the

USDA in concert with the LSU AgCenter is working to

determine the economic impact of the losses incurred, I

can tell you that one nursery I visited, which is one of the

largest in the area, estimates at a minimum of $2 million

in losses in addition to the destruction of buildings and


There are about 200 nurseries in the area and they pro-




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vide wholesale and retail products. Much of their inventory

supplies big box stores around the country. It is big

business for Central Louisiana.

But really, much of our nearly $13 billion agricultural industry

has been impacted. Whether it was the massive loss of

timber from downed trees during the hurricanes, destroyed

grain bins, equipment buildings, fencing, poultry

houses and lost production, strawberries and vegetables,

rice, crawfish, corn, beans, cotton and other commodities

in the aftermath of four presidentially declared disasters,

it is safe to say that the past year has been challenging..

In recent weeks, I have reached out to Secretary Vilsack

and our federal delegation for assistance on behalf of our

farmers. While many have insurance, it will not be enough

to recover their losses and maintain their businesses. Crop

insurance, which only pays a portion of the value of the

loss, is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Risk Management Agency. In many cases, and depending

on the crop, insurance is not even available.

As in past disasters, we are requesting ad-hoc funding

from the federal government to be administered by the

Farm Services Agency or through the Louisiana Finance

Authority to provide direct assistance to agriculture,

forestry and aquaculture in order to allow the largest and

one of the most important industries in Louisiana which

employs over 275 thousand people, to continue to grow

and thrive.

We now look forward to the year ahead. Commodity prices

are rising and planting intentions indicate a significant

increase in acres of corn, soybeans, and cotton in Louisiana.

This is good news. Tractor and equipment sales are

up and farmers are investing in new technology. Also, we

are moving forward with expanding our agricultural and

industrial export capabilities in our rivers and ports. Agriculture

and its related industries continue to be one of the

major drivers of our economy with the greatest outlook

for expansion.


If your financing requires a larger loan or term longer than 15

years, the bond market is an excellent source for funds. This

type of financing is more sophisticated and somewhat more

expensive to access than the two choices above. It will require

additional documentation presented in an official statement, a

bond rating, as well as an underwriter to sell the bonds.

www.csasoftwaresolutions.com • 800.264.4465

Editor’s Note: Mr. Medlin is the former Finance Director of the City

of Baton Rouge and the Parish of East Baton Rouge, with over 30

years of service in municipal government.

LMR | APRIL 2021 Page 23

Rural Development




Recently, The U.S. Department of

Agriculture announced an extension

of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single

Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans through

June 30, 2021. The actions announced will bring relief

to residents in rural America who have housing loans

through USDA.

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development

Justin Maxson said that USDA recognizes that the

COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an almost unprecedented

housing affordability crisis in the United States.

That’s why USDA is taking this important action to

extend relief to the hundreds-of-thousands of individuals

and families holding USDA Single Family Housing loans.

A recent Census Bureau survey showed that 8.2 million

homeowners are currently behind on mortgage payments,

and of that 8.2 million, 3 million homeowners

behind on payments were Black or Hispanic.

This effort underscores a commitment by USDA to bring

relief and assistance to farmers, families and communities

across the country who are in financial distress due

to the coronavirus pandemic. In January, USDA took

action to bring relief to more than 12,000 distressed borrowers

of USDA farm loans by temporarily

suspending past-due debt

collections, foreclosures, non-judicial

foreclosures, debt offsets or wage

garnishments, and more. Learn more

at the following link: USDA Temporarily

Suspends Debt Collections,

Foreclosures and Other Activities

on Farm Loans for Several Thousand

Distressed Borrowers Due to Coronavirus.

Homeowners and renters can also visit www.consumerfinance.gov/housing

for up-to-date information on their relief

options, protections, and key deadlines from USDA, the

Department of Housing and Urban Development, the

Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Housing

Finance Agency, and the Consumer Financial Protection


USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate

actions to help rural residents, businesses and

communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural

Development will keep our customers, partners and

stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are

taken to better serve rural America.

A one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used

by rural communities, organizations and individuals

impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is now available.

The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide (PDF, 349

KB) is a first-of-its-kind resource for rural leaders looking

for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help

address this pandemic.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to

help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in

rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements;

business development;

housing; community facilities such

as schools, public safety and health

care; and high-speed internet access

in rural areas. www.rd.usda.gov. Louisiana’s

RD Area Offices are in Monroe

(318) 343-4467, Natchitoches (318)

352-7100, Lafayette (337) 262-6601,

and Amite (985) 748-8751. For more

information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/la or

call (318) 473.7920.







Page 24

LMR | APRIL 2021

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