How will you promote sustainable economic development that doesn’t add to consolidated government’s financial burden, and diversify the local economy?
Candidate for Parish Council District 2
The only way we can sustain economic development for the parish is to make sure we address the important issues that affect future development. For example, we need to make sure that we can provide and fund parish fire protection. Without the proper protection, insurance rates will be too high for residents and businesses to develop in the unincorporated areas of the parish. We must look at all of these things to make it attractive for economic development. We must also look at our policies and procedures in regards to developing to ensure we are not putting our government in a financial burden.
In regards to diversifying the economy, I will continue to work with LEDA and other entities to help diversify our local economy. We have a great hospital system with Lafayette General, along with the University of Louisiana and SLCC that offers nursing degrees and more. We also have IT companies looking to expand here in Lafayette Parish. So there are opportunities for growth. We also need to find ways to bring the oil and gas industry jobs back!
Ted A. Richard
Candidate for Parish Council District 2
I think that your question is very misleading. The consolidated government does not have a "burden." The City of Lafayette has acquired assets and reserve funds aplenty. But the Parish is virtually BROKE!
Currently there is more than $1.3 million dollars delinquent in property taxes which would all belong to the parish. What are we doing to collect those taxes? Absolutely nothing! I would work closely with the Tax Assessor's office to create a small committee to focus on collecting those delinquent tax bills.
And that's not all!
I would propose a 1% tax for the entire parish for a two-year period, which would all go to the parish coffers. This would give the parish an opportunity to "get back on its feet." The tax would have a beginning date and an end date, similar to the recently passed airport tax. The airport tax yielded $36.2 million in eight months. At that rate, a 1% tax for two years would yield $108.6 million for the parish. This would allow the parish to purchase much-needed equipment and allow the parish to have an actual "working" budget, so that the parish can spend its monies more pro-actively rather than reactively.
The major part of the parish's money woes is that there is less and less area in the Parish, since many of the municipalities have been annexing more and more areas of the parish, which decreases the taxable area that belongs to the parish. Some towns have used state and parish funds to build infrastructure outside of their city limits, and then annex the areas once businesses begin developing there. But the parish never gets reimbursed for the monies spent, and the town reaps the benefits. That's just not fair, and verges on corruption.
I am also in favor of selling the Buchanan Street garage. This is another instance of poor leadership by allowing a parish-owned asset, which at one point was actually a source of income for the parish, to become defunct and condemned.
My preferred choice is the Acadia Design Driven Development proposal of a 10-story mix of affordable and market-rate housing with space for retail stores and a hotel, along with public parking.
The first phase on parish-owned property and two private parcels would include a 670-space parking garage for courthouse employees, residents, hotel guests and 56 surplus spaces, along with 130 residential units and space for a hotel and retail stores. The second phase, which would require obtaining four more private parcels of land on the block, envisions another 87 residential units and additional hotel and retail space. In my opinion, this is the best use of this property, and it also addresses the parking needs of downtown Lafayette.