LAFAYETTE — New taxes likely would be needed if rural residents want better parks, smoother roads and flowing ditches, two City-Parish Council members said Monday at a meeting of an advisory group exploring the finances of local government.
“We are coming down to the point where there is not any other way to go. Our parish budget is zeroed out,” said City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille, who represents a large rural constituency in northern Lafayette Parish.
Castille and Councilman Kevin Naquin, who represents rural areas in and around Scott and Duson, spoke Monday to the city-parish Future Needs/Funding Sources Committee, a citizens advisory group created by the council in February to map out strategies to address the needs of local government.
The nine-member City-Parish Council oversees both the city of Lafayette and the unincorporated areas of the parish. But the two areas are distinct financial entities with separate tax structures, and tax receipts outside the city of Lafayette have not kept pace with the demands of a growing number of rural subdivisions.
Existing tax revenue still may support routine maintenance, but there will be no money for new drainage projects by 2016, according to the projections, and money for new road projects is expected to dip below $1 million a year by 2017.
The property tax that supports the Parks and Recreation Department is collected only in the city limits of Lafayette, so parks outside the city limits must be subsidized from other areas of the budget.
Castille acknowledged new taxes are a hard sell, but he believes rural residents are more open to the possibility than in years past now that budget problems are becoming critical for the unincorporated areas of the parish.
“They are coming around to it, because now it’s starting to affect them more than it used to,” Castille said. “The older generation doesn’t want it. … The new generation, the young people, they are starting to get it.”