Central St. Landry Economic Development District
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an economic development district?
Economic development districts are a proactive tool that communities can utilize to create, or accelerate growth in a defined area within their corporate boundaries. The framework for economic development districts was created by state legislative mandate, but the legal ability to establish a district is afforded to either parish or local government. In some cases, these districts can be cooperative efforts between local and parish governments.
Does an economic development district have defined boundaries?
Yes, an economic development district is a defined geographic area to where funds can be expended for economic development purposes. This boundary is typically identified by roadways or other defined geographic land marks. These boundaries are agreed upon by the local government as part of the creation process.
How does an economic development district generate funds?
An economic development district allows for the collection of an increment tax, which is an additional sales tax above the existing tax structure. It does not affect any part of the existing sales taxes that are being collected on behalf of a local government, or parish. The increment tax can by law be any amount up to two cents. This tax can be on either or both point of sale goods and services, as well as a hotel occupancy tax. The amount of the increment tax must be identified at the time of a district creation.
How is it determined what is taxed in an economic development district?
The taxing authority for districts established for a district is determined by the legal property parcel boundary. These are the same parcels that are referenced to identify a property by a parish tax assessor. A vacant parcel or an existing business can be included in an economic development district at the discretion of the local governing body. A parcel that includes a residential property or occupied residence of any kind may not be included in a district. These parcels do not have to be contiguous but must be within the defined geographic boundaries of the district. It is possible to have a mixed-use property that has business and residential on the same parcel. This eliminates the parcel for consideration of being in the district.
Does an economic development district require a general election vote?
Provided there are no residences or registered voters residing in the parcel identified in the district at the time of creation, there is no requirement for a general election, only the approval of district by the local governing authority.
How long does it take to create an economic development district?
On average, the process to create an economic development district takes from four to six months. This includes the work necessary to define the parcels and boundaries, the public education process, as well as the process of introduction and approval by the local governing authority.
Does an economic development district create a burden for businesses in the district?
An economic development district requires that an included business collect the increment tax and report it with their recurring sales tax reporting. The district does not impose any direct tax burden on an existing business.
What happens with the increment tax monies collected by businesses in the district?
Increment tax dollars in the district are collected in the same fashion as all other sales taxes. The difference is that once collected, the increment tax of the district is put into an economic development trust fund. These monies must be accounted for separately by the governing authority of the district.
What can the district funds be spent on?
Economic development district funds have specific uses. They cannot be spent by a community outside the boundaries of the district as if they are general funds. The funds must be spent on infrastructure and economic development uses within the district that will provide benefits to the current and future businesses of the district. This creates a targeted use of funds that improve business opportunities, which in turn creates more business, which in turn creates more overall tax revenue for a community or a parish.
What are some examples of successful economic districts in Acadiana?
There are many examples of economic development districts in the Acadiana Region as well as across Louisiana. Some of the most notable area districts are the Target Shopping Center Development located at Louisiana Avenue and I-49, the I-49 South Frontage Road area in Scott, Super One, and I-49 East Frontage Road area in Carencro. Some of the newer districts in this area include the I-49 Business District in Grand Coteau as well as I-10 Business District in Duson.
What areas generally make for good economic development districts?
Districts are typically placed along major transportation corridors that offer good potential for commercial and retail growth, but that may not have the infrastructure in place for large scale development and growth.
What are some specific examples of how economic development use funds to promote development?
Some common specific projects that district funds are used to include improvements on roadways; pedestrian access, lighting, and other security related improvements, wastewater, and water system improvements for the district and drainage related improvements to name just a few.
What is the leveraging of economic development district funds?
Many projects for economic development districts on transportation corridors have matching funds available by federal or state entities. This means that the district funds in these areas are often leveraged to create much great value. In some cases, this can be a much as a 90/10 match to where the district is only required to provide 10% of the overall project cost. For example, a qualifying 90/10-million-dollar project would only cost the district 100k. The percentage in these match programs vary and they are not always available, but it is not uncommon to see these present in roadway and lighting improvement projects.
Are there any examples in the Acadiana Region of unsuccessful economic development districts?
There are no examples to date of districts that have been established but have been unsuccessful at their role of creating additional business development opportunities in the defined area and beyond.
What types of business do you normally see develop in economic development districts?
Any type of business can operate within a district provided it complies with local requirements and ordinances. It is common to see retail; restaurants of various types of service and commercial service businesses located in a district. Established districts tend to become a one stop for consumers to shop, dine and even entertain in an easily accessible area.
The Story Behind the Central St. Landry Economic Development District
On September 25, 2014, St. Landry Parish made an unprecedented step forward in unanimously approving the creation of the Harry Guilbeau Economic Development District. This proposal received unanimous support from leaders across St. Landry Parish and Acadiana. It was passed on a 13 - 0 vote on three separate occasions by the St. Landry Parish Council then by the Opelousas City Council. The formal process of creation for the Harry Guilbeau District and its taxing authority was completed on November 20, 2014.
This Harry Guilbeau economic development district (EDD) officially encompasses 729 acres of property surrounding all four quadrants of the Harry Guilbeau Road, I-49 Intersection. Specific properties within this area allow for a collection of up to two (2) cents in sales tax and up to two (2) cents in hotel/luxury tax on goods and services. Currently, these collections are very small since the district has largely been raw land until recently.
These taxes in the district do not affect the existing sales tax dedications in any way. The two (2) cents are collected by the tax collection office within the SLP School Board and set into a separate economic development trust fund. These funds are dedicated for use by a dedicated governing board of the district. This board is responsible for reinvestment back into infrastructure improvements within the boundaries of the EDD. Their goal is to put in a framework of infrastructure that will accelerate sensible business growth in their area.
The existing Harry Guilbeau District’s Governing board is called The Economic Joint Commission. This board consist of seven (7) people who are vetted for qualifications by a group called Vision St Landry. They are formally appointed to their board positions by the Parish President, the Parish Council, and the Mayor of Opelousas.
Because of the need to support development all along I-49 in Opelousas, the Economic Joint Commission has initiated an effort to expand the area of the district and renamed it to the “Central St Landry Economic Development District.” This is based off best practices in districts across Acadiana and the State.
This effort will expand the current district along the east and west I-49 Frontage Road along with all Opelousas Exits. It will also lower the tax rate on both sales and hotel taxes from its current two cents tax to a one cent tax. Largely, the only businesses that are influenced by the district taxing structure are those that operate under a corporate structure, a locally or corporate owned franchise, or businesses located in multiple locations. The typical locally owned businesses are largely not included, with a few unavoidable exceptions.
The intent of this expanded district is to promote the growth of business along the I-49 Corridor in Opelousas. This will require leveraging monies as much as possible, but with a focus of funds usage dedicated to improving the business climate for current and future business along the corridor. Priorities of funds usage will include sewer/water upgrades, interstate lighting improvements, necessary road/pedestrian improvements; enhanced maintenance along I-49, possibly creating a complimentary entertainment venue, a large RV Park, or similar venues that bring people to the area.
Economic Joint Commisioners
Dirk Boudreaux, Vice Chairman