Group files lawsuit against city of Lafayette over tax districts

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- A lawsuit was filed Friday against the city of Lafayette claiming new tax districts do not comply with state law.

The plaintiffs named in the suit are Timothy Supple, Jeremiah Supple Keith Kishbaugh, Carol Ross, Mark Tolson, and Ross Little.

They are represented by attorney Brown Sims attorney Lane Roy.

The lawsuit asks for the 15th Judicial District Court to declare the ordinances O-225-2019 to O-234-2019 null and void in their “present form, not having met the requirements of appropriate legal creation under the state law.”

The Lafayette City-Parish Council passed five economic development centers (EDD) in their final meeting of the year on Dec. 17.

The lawsuit against the EDD’s claims when creating five economic development districts the city did not give 30 days between their introduction and enactment. It also claims the public did not get 10 days notice for the ordinances introductions.

Each EDD creates a 1-2% sales tax and a 2% hotel occupancy tax. The five districts include Downtown, Trappey, Northway, University Gateway, and the Holy Rosary Institute. The council introduced an Acadiana Mall EDD, but did not adopt it.

Plaintiff Jeremiah Supple said on Facebook, “In their haste to pull a fast one on our community, they violated the public notice laws…Don’t let them sneak these taxes in without a vote!”

When introducing the ordinance Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG), said state law gives them the right to introduce tax districts and the Lafayette Parish Home Rule Charter Section 2-12 lines out how much time must be allowed.

There are now 10 economic development centers in the city overall with hopes that the new taxes will fund reinvestment in those areas like it has in neighboring cities.

Before the ordinance passed, during Dec. 17’s Lafayette City-Parish Council Meeting meeting District 1 Councilman Kevin Naquin said, “This is like kindergarten education for me. In the fact that we should not be holding certain areas hostage when everybody else around them is doing it, and everyone is successful.”

Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux introduced the EDD ordinances, but his successor, Mayor-President-Elect Josh Guillory, openly opposed them.

“I do not support these districts,” Guillory said on Dec. 17. “I do not support these taxing districts for many of the reasons that were said today. What voters get to vote on this?”

Members of the city-parish council announced special public hearings next week to launch the districts. The special meetings economic development district meetings will be next Thursday at 5:30 pm and next Friday at noon.

When the new Lafayette City Council is sworn in on Jan. 6, 2020, they will become the board to decide on which revitalization projects the new tax dollars will be allocated to.

You can read the entire lawsuit here:

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