Lafayette Council Approves Putting Airport Tax To Ballot
Lafayette voters will decide December 6 whether to approve a parishwide, one-cent sales tax to fund expansions to the Lafayette Regional Airport.
The City-Parish Council gave the election the go-ahead at its Tuesday meeting with a 7-1 vote. District 9 Council Member William Theriot voted against it following questions about the sudden Sunday retirement of aviation director Greg Roberts.
Matt Cruse, chairman of the Lafayette Airport Commission, said the board is conducting a nationwide search for a replacement who’s worked through growth patterns similar to Lafayette’s. Cruse said the airport’s growth is “outpacing the forecast.”
“We’re in crisis mode right now,” he said. “We’re hitting capacity — 100 percent of capacity — four days a week, every week.”
If approved, the tax should generate $37 million of $90 million needed for a new airport terminal, parking lot and related infrastructure. The rest will be funded through bonds.
"We’re hitting capacity — 100 percent of capacity — four days a week, every week."
City-Parish President Joey Durel says unlike the long-term investments needed for roads, education and public safety, the airport tax would only last eight months.
“This is the only one that is a temporary tax,” Durel said. “Every other priority we have are gonna be long-term.”
Two members of the public spoke in opposition to the tax.
Jim Crumling of Acadiana Patriots said his organization feared it was a “template for future funding.”
Ross Little Jr. questioned why a retail tax should be a solution to the airport’s problems.
“We did not hear an economic impact on the taxpayers of Lafayette,” he said.