Incoming Mayor-President Josh Guillory expressed opposition Monday to six proposed economic development districts scheduled for a vote Tuesday at the final meeting of the Lafayette City-Parish Council.
The council will be replaced Jan. 6 by separate city of Lafayette and parish of Lafayette councils. Guillory also takes office Jan. 6, replacing Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, who chose not to seek reelection.
Robideaux's administration in November asked the council to adopt ordinances creating six economic development districts in the city, each with the ability to impose up to 2% sales tax, 5-mill property tax and 2% hotel-motel occupancy tax.
"I believe these matters are important enough that they should be held over until the new City and Parish Councils can give them thorough consideration and receive greater public input," Guillory said in a news release Monday. "This isn’t something we should rush through at the last minute without proper study and analysis. I believe the new councils, freshly elected by our people, will be well equipped to give these proposals careful and thoughtful consideration."
The six proposed districts are entirely within the corporate limits of the city of Lafayette, according to Neil Lebouef, Lafayette Consolidated Government planner. As such, if the city-parish council delays acting on the ordinances Tuesday, only the new City Council would consider them in the future, not the Parish Council.
Guillory wrote that he's concerned the new districts, which can impose taxes without a vote of residents, sends the wrong message.
"I want our city and parish to be known as business friendly, low tax jurisdictions that are more inviting to visitors who want to stay here and shop here," he wrote. "These taxing districts do the opposite."
He is particularly concerned the districts are designed to avoid a vote of residents.
As The Acadiana Advocate reported Sunday, 225 downtown Lafayette properties are excluded from the Downtown Economic Development District because they have registered voters attached to them. If voters were included in the district, a tax could not be imposed without an election.
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