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One man urging Lafayette residents to vote 'no' on half-cent sal - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

One man urging Lafayette residents to vote 'no' on half-cent sales tax

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Voters will decide on a ten-year, half-cent sales tax on the April 29 election. Voters will decide on a ten-year, half-cent sales tax on the April 29 election.
LAFAYETTE PARISH -

In just nine days, voters in Lafayette Parish will have the opportunity to decide the fate of a ten-year, half-cent sales tax.

The revenue from the tax would go towards eliminating half of the temporary classrooms at schools across the parish and giving Prairie Elementary and Carencro Heights a new campus. 

Michael Lunsford believes that LPSS could better use the money and classrooms they already have to solve the temporary building problem.

"Instead of every single time coming back to the taxpayers and saying 'hey we could use some money', if you actually get creative and look at the documents that are public, they're on the website you could come up with other scenarios," Lunsford said.

So he did. One of the scenarios involves using new tax income from property tax reassessment and new subdivisions, as well as tax revenue from new businesses in the parish. He estimated if the school system had been doing that for the last ten years, they would have almost a billion dollars. 

He even said based on his calculations, the re-zoning set to take place in the fall could leave permanent classrooms empty.

"All those numbers should start to shift around a little bit, so in theory if they did the re-zoning based on population all of this should wash itself out," Lunsford said.

School board member Justin Centanni said Lunsford's math is wrong. 

"If we have a bunch of empty classrooms in this parish, then I would love to see them," Centanni said. "Following the numbers to the conclusion, he leads people to believe that we have the capacity to hold about 46,000 students in this parish and if he can show me empty classrooms, I would be happy to take care of it."

He said they looked at several options before settling on a sales tax.

Centanni said using new tax income just will not work. 

"One of the things is we take in about $11,000 in revenue every year per student and that's state local and federal money," Centanni said. "But about $90 million is dedicated to sources and priorities we cannot use for facility construction."

The election is on April 29. 

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