District 8 City-Parish Councilman Keith Patin has been taking a beating from the Tea Party of Lafayette for having an open mind on the creation of two proposed economic development, or TIF, districts at Kaliste Saloom Road and Camellia Boulevard. Now Patin wants to hear what his constituents have to say by calling a town-hall style meeting.

The proposed economic development districts — also called a Tax Increment Financing district — are located on 34 acres of prime real estate at Kaliste Saloom Road and Camellia Boulevard, across the street from upscale River Ranch, in District 7, which is represented by Councilman Don Bertrand. River Ranch is a traditional neighborhood development that has successfully built up in the past dozen years without requesting such incentives, made possible by the Louisiana Legislature in 2002 when it amended decades-old incentive laws to allow for a wider range of economic development projects. The proposed TIF districts are to help fund development of a luxury hotel unlike any currently offered in the market. It is a component of developer Glenn Stewart's Parc Lafayette, a lifestyle center that will also offer office, shopping and restaurants.

The TIF proposals call for an additional 2 cent sales tax and 2 cent hotel occupancy tax at the hotel, and a 1 cent sales tax in the retail development that will surround the hotel. The base sales tax of 8 percent would continue to line the coffers of the state, local government and the Lafayette Parish School Board, and absolutely no tax dollars are on the hook if the development fails; the additional tax expires when the bonds are paid off. The revenue generated from the extra hotel and sales taxes would fund the hotel infrastructure and development only.

“I’m lucky I don’t have to vote today,” says Patin, who remains steadfast in his commitment to study every pro and con of the developer’s request before casting his vote, scheduled for March 15, despite mounting pressure and threats from the Tea Party of Lafayette. “It’s difficult to get all viewpoints across when it escalates and tempers flare,” says Patin, referencing at Feb. 10 meeting he had with the TPL.

Patin is meeting with his District 8 constituents Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the Southside Regional Library to hear from them and to address their concerns about the project, which borders his district. District 7's Bertrand will attend the meeting as well.

Patin has invited developer Stewart to address the crowd and answer any questions, and the councilman is adamant the discourse will be civil.

Read more about the proposed TIF districts in tomorrow’s Independent Weekly.

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