Posted: Jun 8, 2011 9:43 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The Lafayette City-Parish Council has voted down a policy that would have required voter approval for all new taxes.
The council's 7-2 vote Tuesday against the measure came after 16 residents spoke in favor of requiring voter approval.
The only councilmen who supported the requirement were the two who proposed it: William Theriot and Jared Bellard.
Voters generally must approve new taxes, but Louisiana law makes exceptions for certain special taxing districts, sometimes known as tax increment financing districts, or TIFs.
Local government can impose new taxes in TIF districts without voter approval if no residents live in the area where the tax is to be collected.
Supporters argue that TIFs are good tools to spur development because tax revenue generated by a new development is used to pay back the money used to build the development or the infrastructure needed to attract it.
Opponents counter that TIFs can give an unfair advantage to new businesses at the expense of established ones and offer a loophole around voters for new taxes.
The proposal on Tuesday would not have banned TIF districts but would have required that any future TIF districts be drawn to include residential property, which would in turn mean the tax would have to be put on the ballot for a yes-or-no vote.
"This ordinance will once again ensure that there is no taxation without representation," said Tea Party of Lafayette coordinator Joyce Linde, in urging the council to support the proposal.
Three people spoke against requiring voter approval for TIFs, including Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce President Rob Guidry.
"I'm here to urge the council to use all the economic development tools that are available in the state of Louisiana," he said.