A bill that cleared the Legislature Monday and awaits Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature would allow Lafayette and five other parishes — Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson and Orleans — to levy a 3 percent tax on car rentals, with the revenue generated by the tax dedicated to various enterprises in each parish, and in the case of Lafayette one agency that evidently doesn’t exist.
The major beneficiary of the tax here would be the Lafayette Airport Commission, which would receive four-sixths of the revenue. One sixth of the tax would be distributed “to political subdivisions in the parish” and the remaining sixth would be directed to the North Lafayette Redevelopment Authority, a nine-member commission created by an act of the Legislature in 2008 but one that doesn’t appear to actually exist. Although several people we spoke to in Lafayette Consolidated Government had heard of the NLRA, the consensus is that while the 2008 bill authorized its creation, since there was no funding stream for the body at the time no one bothered to make appointments. The 2008 legislation authored by then-state Sen. Donald Cravins Jr. says the appointments to the NLRA must be made within 30 days of the bill becoming law, which would have been nearly four years ago. (Appointment authority for the NLRA is in the hands of elected officials — local and state — who represent the north side of the city of Lafayette along with the Lafayette school superintendent and the Community Development Department.)
“There’s no chair, vice chair, no one in place, no one appointed at this time,” says Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, who represents District 4 and has appointment authority. “I remember the hiccup was that they could create the authority but there was no funding available at that time.”
The levying of the 3 percent car rental tax would have to be approved by a public vote, which in turn must be approved through a City-Parish Council ordinance. Boudreaux says there’s been no talk among council members of writing an ordinance to authorize the public vote.