Lafayette Voters Will Likely See Airport Tax On December Ballot
It looks like voters will decide December 6 on a one-cent sales tax for Lafayette’s airport expansion.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted 8-1 Tuesday to order the special election at its June 17 meeting. District 9 council member William Theriot — who gave the only dissenting vote — initially tried to amend the resolution to support the election for November.
“To make it honest and trustworthy to the public, let’s put it in November,” Theriot said. “I agree that the higher turnout may be more advantageous to you in the end.”
But the amendment failed, with only council members Andy Naquin, District 6, and Jared Bellard, District 5, voting in favor.
"“I think it is improper to vote with this tax, and I’m going to fight it,”"
Matt Cruse, chairman of the Lafayette Airport Commission, defended holding the election in December because of “sky-high” advertising costs leading to the crowded November ballot, which asks voters to decide on more than 45 items, several Constitutional amendments and a school board election.
“We’re afraid of getting lost in the shuffle with so many items on that initial ballot,” Cruse said.
Council member Donald Bertrand said he agreed with the December date.
“It gives you an additional month to get the word out, and I think it’s important that that month that you’re doing that advertising, people will see it better, and will be more willing to engage,” Bertrand said.
Daniel Moore, who lives in a subdivision off Hugh Wallis Road, said he and 21 other residents are affected daily by low-flying air traffic and would like other issues addressed before he can support the tax, like the damages these residents incur to their homes.
“I think it is improper to vote with this tax, and I’m going to fight it,” Moore said.
If voters pass the tax, the revenue will provide nearly $36 million of the $90 million needed for the Lafayette Regional Airport’s expansion, which will add parking and increase the port’s size from three boarding gates to five, with the capacity to expand to seven terminals by 2030. Another third of the project will be funded through state and federal grants, with the final $30 million coming from the airport itself.
Although Lafayette has the fourth largest airport in terms of passengers, Cruse said it ranks second in terms of economic output. He said Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development calculated the airport brings in $1.1 billion annually for the parish, second only to New Orleans.