In what could be considered of symbolic significance only, the Lafayette City-Parish Council Tuesday will vote on an introductory ordinance that would bar the council from future votes on establishing tax increment financing, or TIF, districts. The ordinance, sponsored by tea party-friendly Councilmen William Theriot and Jared Bellard, would prohibit the council from considering or placing on its agenda “any matter that includes a proposal to levy property taxes in excess of what the constitution authorizes to be levied without a vote of the people and all proposals to renew, levy a new or increase an existing sales and use tax unless such proposal is submitted to the voters for approval in accordance with the election laws of the state ...”
The ordinance is a response to the recent controversy over developer Glenn Stewart’s swanky Parc Lafayette project for which an ordinance proposing a TIF to bankroll the project was later pulled following intense opposition mainly from the Tea Party of Lafayette. Theriot and Bellard courted TPL members at a recent forum, receiving hearty applause when they announced the anti-TIF ordinance.
However, Mike Hebert, chief counsel for Lafayette Consolidated Government, doubts the ordinance could meet legal muster because runs counter to state law, which grants municipalities the right to create TIF districts in which additional taxes are levied without a public vote. Currently, the Lafayette Home Rule Charter includes a clause preventing the levying of a tax without a vote of the people — in effect, local law and state law are in opposition.
Hebert crafted the ordinance at Theriot’s request, but Hebert also includes a caveat in his confirmation letter to the councilman: “I believe the only mechanism available to enforce this kind of prohibition would be to adopt it as a council policy,” Hebert writes. “I do not believe that the council could pass a local ordinance generally declaring any tax increase without a vote of the people to be illegal, for that is a matter that would likely be considered to be preempted by state law.”
A TIF district was used to fund the infrastructure at the Target-anchored shopping center on Louisiana Avenue at Interstate 10. An additional penny in sales tax is charged by merchants at the shopping center; that additional revenue funds the infrastructure. The state TIF law was created to help cities jump start development in blighted or under-served areas. Stewart’s Parc Lafayette TIF created such a stir in large part because it would have helped the developer fund a high-end shopping center in the most commercially desirable area of Lafayette.
A plan last year floated by the Durel administration to create TIF districts along Ambassador Caffery and elsewhere on the south side of Lafayette was also abandoned.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.