St. Martin Parish fiscally strong
The St. Martin Parish Council Tuesday heard good news from Parish Assessor Lawrence Patin and auditor Charles “Chip” Maraist. “Revenues are outstripping expenditures,” said Maraist, summarizing the annual audit report. “You are experiencing steady growth.” In fact, according to Patin, taxable value in the parish, which just breached the $400 million mark, has grown 165 percent over the last 12 years. Sales tax revenues continue to climb also, Maraist said. Parish President Guy Cormier said the news is even better when viewed in the context of what many other parishes in the state are facing, which is either a flat economy or one that is actually receding. A big part of the growth in revenues stems from the lucky accident of the parish being crisscrossed with major highways. U.S. 90, the oilfield service industry corridor, has Baker Hughes and the St. Martin Economic Development Authority’s (SMEDA) industrial park. Property tax assessment at Baker Hughes grew over 50 percent between 2012 and 2013, Patin said. SMEDA’s portion grew 26 percent during the same period. Meanwhile, development along Interstate 10 continues to drive increases in sales taxes. President Cormier said the parish’s solid financial footing will enable his administration to concentrate on drainage problems, adding more men and equipment. An extensive, multi-year road-improvement project is nearing completion. Cormier submitted his 2014 budget to the council, which is expected to approve it at this council’s Dec. 3 meeting. Kudos flew back and forth at the happy news, council members acknowledging Cormier’s business acumen, Cormier praising the council’s insight and cooperation, and both sides crediting parish employees for their efficiency and dedication.