Downtown Lafayette supporters savor turnout and results as voters renew tax support | Business
Lafayette’s Downtown Development Authority won in a tax renewal effort on Saturday, winning 71% of the vote and promising stable funding to energize downtown for another 15 years.
The vote was the first on the mile since 2007. Almost 25% of voters in five constituencies – there were 634 eligible voters in total – cast their ballots and of these, 71.15% favored continued support. Anita Begnaud, CEO of the Downtown Development Authority, said the turnout was higher than expected and the support was much appreciated.
“A big thank you to the downtown voters for coming out in overwhelming support for DDA’s mileage renewal today,” she said Saturday night. “We are also very grateful for the efforts of over 30 (Downtown Lafayette Unlimited) volunteers who have worked hard over the past two months to educate voters about this election. Without their help, we could not have had such a high participation rate.
Part of that turnout – 80 votes – came from early voting. But Begnaud said that was only part of what was a surprisingly robust response to the renewal effort. No one would pay more taxes because of the renewal, supporters said. About 447,840 will be generated this year by the tax.
Downtown voters have supported downtown mileage for nearly 30 years. The money pays the Downtown Development Authority, which works to generate business and develop the downtown core and promote local culture.
Broadly, the tax district boundary is Voorhies and West Second Street to the north, North Chestnut and Gordon to the east, Gordon and Brashear to the south, and St. Antoine to the west. According to the 2020 DDA 2020 report, there are over 1,000 businesses and 4,000 jobs in the tax district.
Will LaBar, chairman of the Downtown Lafayette Unlimited Board, said in a letter before the election that more than 90 businesses had opened or expanded downtown in the past three years. He said more than 200 residential apartments are under construction as downtown enthusiasts continue to encourage people to move downtown.
He said proponents of renewing the tax contacted all voters ahead of the election.
“We knocked on every door. We distributed flyers. We do this because we represent the businesses and owners who pay that mileage and we appreciate the opportunity to do so,” he said in a letter.
The Downtown Development Authority defines itself as “the government entity responsible for encouraging and promoting private development and coordinating public development in the Downtown District”.
Downtown projects this year include sidewalk improvements.
Lawyer journalist Claire Taylor contributed to this report.