Durel Proposes Tax For New Airport Terminal, Dedicated Funds For Animal Control
Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel is proposing a one-year, one-cent sales tax to build a new terminal at the Lafayette Regional Airport.
"It's time for a new terminal for Lafayette and our region," Durel said during his State of the Parish address Tuesday, noting the airport is "a critical, critical gateway into our community."
Alexandria, Lake Charles, Monroe and New Orleans recently announced airport expansions, so Durel said it's important for parish growth to follow suit as airport officials expect a 40 percent passenger increase over the next 11 years.
"If we want to improve our services, we’ve got to be competitive," Durel said.
Durel also announced a proposal to consolidate certain property taxes into a single public health millage that will include animal control.
"For the first time ever, we will get dedicated money" to fund animal control and build a new "state-of-the-art" facility for that department, Durel said.
Existing property taxes for the parish health unit and mosquito control will be put into the new category.
Both proposals will go before the City-Parish Council in March.
Additional topics Durel covered during his address:
- Consolidation. "The greatest threat to the future of our prosperity is consolidation," Durel said. After noticing the city was bleeding money into the parish a few years ago, "I feel better about the budget than I ever have," he expressed, but said it will take legislation to mend the problems with consolidation. Parish mayors are working together to create an annexation policy, Durel said, which will benefit residents in unincorporated areas.
- Comprehensive plan. "The core of our city is in need of attention and ripe for investment," Durel said. The comprehensive plan is not a "master plan," Durel explained, but a way of looking at the big picture and "spending tax dollars as efficiently as possible. The real beneficiaries will be our children, grandchildren and generations to follow."
- Economic outlook. Oil and gas, medical and retail are again the major economic drivers for the area. Durel said regional collaboration to get a focus on I-49 expansion is high priority.
- Quality of life. Durel said in addition to building more bike lanes and continuing progress at Lafayette Central Park, he wants to see better use of public spaces to accommodate local artists. "Part of my inspiration was graffiti," Durel said as he presented images of commissioned paintings on utility boxes, for example, in other municipalities.