Carencro, Scott eye hotel taxes

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- The Howard Johnson Inn near I-10 Friday in Scott. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- The Howard Johnson Inn near I-10 Friday in Scott.

Cities to seek legislative approval

Scott and Carencro are both eyeing hotel taxes and are following in the footsteps of Youngsville, where voters last year approved a 4 percent tax on hotel and motel bills.

The state Legislature would need to OK the tax elections, but both cities have filed formal notices of intent to seek legislative approval in the session that begins in March.

There are three hotels in Scott, and Mayor Purvis Morrison said a tax of 5 percent on hotel bills there would generate about $100,000 a year — money that could be used for tourism, parks and recreation and a planned 4-H facility near Interstate 10.

“It would be things to help bring more people to the area,” Morrison said.

He said he also expects to see another hotel or two in the near future with the growth of Destination Pointe, a planned development of retail stores and restaurants on a 44-acre site along I-10.

Morrison said he plans to bring the tax proposal to the Scott City Council in February, and if the council approves, move next to the Legislature.

Assuming legislative approval, the tax election could be held later this year or early next year, Morrison said.

He said a big selling point is that the tax would be a way to fund city needs with money paid by visitors rather than residents.

“This tax would not hurt anyone in the city,” he said.

Carencro Mayor Glenn Brasseaux offered a similar take.

“We are letting people outside of our community pay for infrastructure,” he said.

The Carencro City Council voted last year to move forward with a hotel tax proposal, but Brasseaux said there is no firm timeline for an election should the Legislature give its OK.

The mayor said that in the near term, any hotel tax revenue would be used for water and sewer infrastructure, but in the future, the money could help support tourism and economic development projects.

Carencro has only one small hotel, but the city and surrounding area along Interstate 49 has been growing in recent years.

Brasseaux said there has been interest from hotel developers.

“We are getting some prospects calling,” he said.

The mayor said the city wants to act now to have the tax in place before any new hotel developments come online.

“Now would be the time to do it before we have others built up,” he said.

The lack of hotels didn’t stop Youngsville.

City voters there approved a hotel tax of 4 percent in October, but for now, the tax is not generating any revenue because Youngsville has no hotels.

Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator said there has been strong interest from hotel developers but he believes most are waiting for the opening of the city’s new $16 million recreation complex.

The new complex was proposed partly as an economic development tool to lure large regional sports tournaments to the area, and Viator has said the new visitors will offer an attractive market for hotels, restaurants and shops.

The recreation complex is scheduled to open later this year, and the hotel tax is dedicated to expenses related to a planned community center to be built at the complex.