OPELOUSAS — An ordinance creating an economic and taxing district south of Opelousas was passed unanimously at Wednesday’s St. Landry Parish Council meeting.
New retail businesses and hotels locating in the 700-acre Harry Guilbeau Area Economic District will collect an extra 2-cent sales tax to fund a proposed events center to be located within the district, said Bill Rodier, executive director of the St. Landry Economic and Development District.
Businesses located in the rural areas of the parish currently collect a 9.75 percent sales tax.
Customers at new businesses and hotels that locate inside the Harry Guilbeau Area Economic District will pay 11.75 percent in sales tax effective Jan. 1. The additional tax won’t apply to businesses already located within the district, Rodier said.
Most of the district lies along the corridor of Harry Guilbeau Road, a paved, single-lane road that connects La. 182 and Interstate 49 about 4 miles south of Opelousas.
Parish President Bill Fontenot said a six-member administrative board will oversee collection of taxes within the district.
The Parish Council, Opelousas Board of Aldermen and parish president each will have two representatives on the board, Fontenot said.
Council member Wayne Ardoin said the city has agreed to supply water to businesses and residences that will be located in the district.
Harold Foreman, one of the owners of Blue Sky Development Corporation, which owns property inside the Harry Guilbeau District, said Wednesday’s council action allows parish government to apply to the state Legislature in 2015 for $10 million for infrastructure improvement assistance.
Foreman said Blue Sky and Michael Broussard, who developed the Clois du Bois subdivision that abuts the Harry Guilbeau District, are donating 60 acres for an events center and an adjoining recreational vehicle park.
The proposed 3,000-seat events center, Foreman said, will be used for horse shows, concerts and sporting events.
Proceeds from the tax will be used to build the center, Foreman said.
Developers already have expressed interest about locating businesses and residential neighborhoods in the district, Rodier said.
“I think we will see some interest created in the first quarter of (2015),” Rodier said. “I expect the progress to be steady.”