La. lawmakers agree to give assessors hefty car allowance
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s parish tax assessors should be able to give themselves hefty car allowances up to 15% of their annual six-figure salaries, lawmakers have agreed, giving final passage Thursday to the proposal.
A 38-0 Senate vote and a 76-25 House vote sent the bill by Republican Sen. Stewart Cathey, of Monroe, to the governor’s desk for consideration.
Lawmakers said assessors earn between $135,000 and $172,000 annually. The measure would allow them to receive a vehicle allowance that is up to 15% of their salary on top of their yearly pay, an allowance that could reach $20,000 to $26,000 a year.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, hasn’t publicly taken a position on the idea. A similar proposal was blocked five years ago by lawmakers who questioned the need for the large increases.
Supporters say assessors already are paid other travel expenses and the car allowances would replace those existing costs. They also note that eight parishes already have received legislative authorization in previous years to get the same type of vehicle allowance. Cathey’s bill would expand that to let all 64 assessors have that add-on pay if the individual assessor chooses.
The dollars for the vehicle payments would come from assessors’ existing budgets. A nonpartisan fiscal analysis estimated the car allowances could cost taxpayers across the state more than $1 million a year, if every assessor takes the payment.
While the proposal had little debate and no opposition in the Senate, opponents in the House argued the vehicle allowances seemed unnecessary for officials who already earn six-figure paychecks, and they questioned the size of the car payments.
The measure would require assessors to specify in a yearly affidavit that they did not regularly use office vehicles during any period when getting a car allowance. Before they take the new car allowance, assessors would have to announce that decision publicly.
The bill is filed as Senate Bill 197.
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