[UPDATE] Haven Property Owners Association Explains Reasons for Suit Against City
Mayor Ollie Tyler sent KEEL a brief comment about this lawsuit. We asked her if the quote in the Times from her was accurate. She had this to say:
The statement was not accurate in the Times newspaper because it was taken out of context. The question was asked if the candidates were elected Mayor, will we do an audit. My answer was yes if there are errors. However, the City is currently working to correct any billing errors, has selected a new billing company, and we will seek the employment of a CPA firm to determine if any refunds should be made to these commercial customers.
The Homeowners Association for the Haven subdivision in Southeast Shreveport has filed suit against the City of Shreveport claiming residents were overcharged for water and sewer services. The Briarwood Apartment owners also joined the suit.
Residents of the Haven got a notice in the mail this week from the homeowners association. It says, in part: Our Board of Directors have a duty to prudently pursue and collect all monies due to it. The fact is the city owes the association a large amount of money."
The letter goes on to add:
In July, 2015 the state legislature removed the utilities exemption from state sales taxes for WATER ONLY for all commercial accounts in the state. The exemption for sewage remained in place. Thus the city was only authorized to tax "water consumption". However the city placed the sales tax on the entire bill including sewage charges, meter fees, recycling fees and other misc. charges. This resulted in the Haven paying an estimated $25,000 to 30,000 dollars.
The Homeowners Association is trying to recoup this money from the city. But the letter also says the Mayor's Office has not responded to attempts to settle this matter before the suit was filed. The letter claims the city charged the higher rates until January of 2018 when corrections were made and the taxes are now charged on water consumption and the security fee.
The Times reports the suit also claims the city kept the monies collected on the utilities and did not report it to the State Revenue Department. The newspaper report says "The lawsuit estimates that the city collected an estimated $2.5 million to $3.5 million from all commercial water and sewer customers from the allegedly improper charges."
During a recent election forum, Mayor Ollie Tyler said "If something has been done wrong, we will do the audit when I'm re-elected."