Voters to decide Lakefront TIF District in April - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Voters to decide Lakefront TIF District in April

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Lake Charles voters will soon decide another component on how to finance and attract future infrastructure along the Lakefront. It's not a new tax or increase in taxes, but rather a tax incremental financing district - also known as a TIF.

"We have certain infrastructure projects we need to start thinking about in terms of Lakefront development and one way to finance those is through a TIF," said Marshall Simien, Lake Charles City Councilman. 

In 2007, Lake Charles voters not only approved the $90 million bond issue but a tax incremental financing district for the 65 acres of lakefront ready to be developed. Five years later, the City Council is asking voters to activate the TIF to allow 2.25% of the tax revenue generated along the lakefront to help with infrastructure and attract new projects.

Currently, the Civic Center is the only thing generating sales tax along the lakefront and according to Simien, generally loses the city about $1 million per year. However, Simien said with a 150-room Hyatt Hotel in the works, now is the time to put the TIF up for vote.

"We think that part of the development of the lakefront is to have a hotel at the Civic Center to make it more viable as a conference center and also to support the activities of the Civic Center. And the time to activate the TIF is now before there is any type of tax generation coming out of it," explained Simien.

If approved by voters, it would be the first TIF district in Lake Charles. With the expected economic boom headed to Southwest Louisiana, council members believe it will serve as a catalyst.

"It would spread like wildfire is what my prediction would be," said Rodney Geyen, Lake Charles City Council.

"We are going to have astronomical growth. So, basically with that said I want the people to have the opportunity to vote on it," said Stuart Weatherford, Lake Charles City Council.

Again, it's not a new tax or tax increase but would free up money to help finance infrastructure needs such as parking upgrades.

"These kinds of TIFs are attractive to developers because they come in with the assurances that they are going to get infrastructure, the areas are going to be maintained and it doesn't fall on them later on," said Simien.

The old Harrah's property would not be included in the TIF district because it was private property during the 2007 vote.

Voters will decide on April 6. Another reason why they decided to place it on the April ballot is because it's the same election when voters will decide the mayor and council races.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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