YOUNGSVILLE — Voters will decide Nov. 19 whether to approve a 1-cent sales tax to pay for a new sports complex and recreational center that would take shape on 70 acres near the Sugar Mill Pond development.
The Youngsville City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to put the tax proposition before voters.
Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator said construction of the project could begin by February if voters approve the new tax.
City officials have held off developing specific site plans for the park until voters decide whether to pass the tax, but Viator said the wish list includes multiple fields for baseball and soccer, a community center, basketball and soccer courts, playgrounds and a walking track.
He said the 1-cent sales tax would allow the city to borrow about $11.5 million to build the park, which would be on 70 acres of land donated by a local business, Young’s Industries.
Councilwoman Brenda Burley said there has long been a need for a large modern recreation center in Youngsville, and it was a top issue in council elections last year.
“I thought it was the most pressing need,” she said.
Youngsville, which has seen its population double in the past decade to more than 8,000 residents, has no city-owned recreation facility, but it is served by Lafayette City-Parish Government’s Foster Memorial Park.
Youngsville officials say the small park is inadequate for the growing city.
Viator said the proposed park will allow Youngsville parents to keep their children in sports programs close to home, will provide recreation programs for the elderly and will boost economic development by attracting large sports tournaments to the area.
Most of the residents at Wednesday’s council meeting were in favor of putting the tax on the ballot, but there were questions about whether the city could pay for the new facility with existing tax revenue and whether a 1-cent tax was too much to ask.
If the tax is approved, Youngsville’s sales tax rate will rise to 9.5 percent, the highest in the parish.
“I just want to make sure we are not asking for more than we need,” said Councilman Ken Ritter.
Viator said the city has already tapped existing revenue for a long list of new road projects and upgrades to the city’s water and sewer system to keep up with its rapid growth.
“We can’t even consider this without a tax,” Burley said.
She said the proposed tax would not only pay for construction of the sports complex and community center but also put in place the revenue stream that will ensure proper maintenance and staffing in the future.