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|Judge favors board in tax error lawsuit|
In a ruling filed in Fifth Judicial District Court on Feb. 29, Judge Glen Strong denied claims in a lawsuit against the Franklin Parish School Board.
Ouachita Parish resident Shirley T. McManus alleged that from June 30, 2005, through April 29, 2006, she was overcharged on purchases in Franklin Parish by a one-half cent sales tax that was being collected, though it had expired.
McManus sought compensatory damages in the class action suit.
In February 2006, the Franklin Parish School Board discovered that a one-half cent sales tax believed to expire in June 2006, had actually expired on June 30, 2005. The school board determined an error had been made in the wording of the tax, and that mistake had been continued documents pertaining to the tax.
In the Feb. 15, 2006, issue of The Franklin Sun, sales tax collector Joe Walters said that was no explanation for the mistake and there was no one to blame.
To correct the situation, after parish voters approved a five-year half-cent sales tax on April 29, 2006, the school board adopted a resolution to collect the tax for only four of the five years. This move was done to show "good faith" to the taxpayers.
In the lawsuit, Jon Guice, attorney for the school board, cited rulings in similar cases.
Judge Strong denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the basis that she had not carried the burden of proving she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
In the "Written Reasons for Judgment," Strong cited a ruling in Dupre v. City of Opelousas, which concluded the error was "one that was readily detectible by reference to the ordinance of levying the taxes" and "every man is supposed to know the law."
Strong granted the motion for summary judgment filed by the board and all court costs were assessed to McManus.
"We're extremely happy about the ruling," said Supt. Lanny Johnson, "we can put the money we had in escrow back into our sales tax fund."