Parish Council proposes tax on sand and gravel

Published 11:50 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012


The Daily News

Tons of sand and gravel are mined throughout Washington Parish and continually taken out to destinations across the country. The parish currently gets nothing in return, but the Parish Council is working to bring in some revenues in return for the outgoing resources.

The council introduced a resolution that proposes a severance tax on “gravel and other related material” such as sand, clay and topsoil.

The resolution states that there are currently no severance taxes on “these natural resources” in Louisiana, and it resolves to ask the state Police Jury Association to propose a legislative act to tax the “natural resources severed from the soil or water.”

Council Chairman Greg Route Sr. said the council’s Infrastructure Committee is now tasked with “filling in the blanks” regarding the proposed amount of tax, either per pound or per ton.

The committee has through January to get that done in time for presentation at the PJA state convention in February.

Route said the proposal got a good reception at a Region 6 PJA meeting last week.

“I hope all other parishes that have gravel will get on board,” he said. “Then it will go to the Legislature. It’s going to take (Sen.) Ben Nevers and the state Legislature to help. I hope Ben Nevers gets it and pushes it through.”

Route said it’s only fair, and it’s needed.

“What we are trying to do is put on some kind of severance fee to bring money back to the parish,” he said. “Gravel is leaving from different places, different pits, throughout the parish, and we’re not getting anything for it. We could use every cent we could get.”

Councilman Ken Wheat agrees.

“The reason for looking at gravel is that it’s a huge resource in our parish that leaves and goes all over the world,” he said. “Now with fracking, because the (energy) industry is so active, it’s foreseeable that fracking sand is going to be a huge resource. They are taking these things out of our parish to all parts of the country.

“This is basically an export tax to collect revenues from non-residents. We want to get as much revenue from non-residents as we can to lighten the burden on residents.”

The parish is looking into the structure of its revenue base and considering all possible export taxes in order to “tilt the balance” in favor of local residents and businesses, Wheat said.