Lafayette Airport Tax On Dec. 6 Runoff Ballot

LAFAYETTE, LA (AP) — Voters across Lafayette Parish will decide Dec. 6 on a proposed 1-cent sales tax that would be collected for eight months in 2015 to help build a new airport terminal.

         Tyron Picard, a consultant handling governmental affairs for the airport, tells The Advertiser’s Claire Taylor voter apathy and not understanding the tax proposal are two things that can kill the tax.

         Voter turnout was about 51 percent in Lafayette Parish for the Nov. 4 election, which included races for U.S. Senate and Congress and numerous local races, including district attorney, city marshal and school board. Turnout for the Dec. 6 election, when far fewer races will be decided, may be considerably lower.

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         The airport commission wants to collect a 1-cent sales tax throughout Lafayette Parish from April 1 through Nov. 30, 2015. The tax is expected to generate about $37 million toward the $90 million project, which includes a new airport terminal, up to 50 percent more parking and related infrastructure.

         Lafayette Regional Airport is the worst of the metropolitan airports in Louisiana, Picard said.

         Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Monroe recently improved their airports and New Orleans is about to build a new $800 million airport, said Larry Sides, public relations consultant.

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         Lafayette's airport has only three boarding gates and, under the current configuration, no room to expand, Sides said. A new terminal would have five gates with space to add two more, he said.

         "We have twice the passengers as Monroe, but they have more boarding gates," Sides said.

         Lafayette and Acadiana are expected to grow in the next 10 years, including the health care industry and tech companies, Picard said, but one thing that could stall that growth is if the airport fails to keep up with demand.

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