Bill seeks state funding for Juban Crossing development

State Rep. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston Show caption
State Rep. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston

A Livingston Parish legislator is once again trying to get state help to finance infrastructure improvements related to the proposed Juban Crossing mixed-used development.

State Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, prefiled a bill that would create a funding stream for public improvements associated with the 470-acre development to be located just north of Interstate 12 at Juban Road in Denham Springs.

The legislation is needed to “fast-track the development and minimize the phases required. It just jump-starts the project,” Erdey said Monday.

The legislation would create the Juban Crossing Economic Development District Fund into which 1 percent of the state’s 4 percent sales tax generated on retail sales in the district would be deposited. A maximum of $45 million could go into the fund.

The money would be used to pay off government borrowing for roads, site preparation and other infrastructure.

Development plans call for stores, hotels, restaurants, a theater, two apartment sites and about 500 homes.

The bill is up for consideration in the 2013 regular legislative session, which opens April 8.

Local government has committed 2 percent of the local sales tax collected from the Juban Crossing development for the purpose.

Similar legislation won overwhelming approval in the 2012 legislative session. But it was vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, who said it would divert dollars from state government.

Last year, Erdey blamed the veto partially on his “no” votes on Jindal’s two key bills to overhaul public schools.

“I’m hearing and hoping the governor has a change of heart,” Erdey said Monday.

Jindal’s reason for vetoing the measure did not make sense to him, he said.

“It’s on future taxes generated,” Erdey said. The legislation would not take away sales tax dollars currently going to the state, he said.

“Do the math. What’s 100 percent of zero? That’s what we are collecting right now,” Erdey said.

“If we are able to do the TIF, 3 cents are better than zero,” referring to the money the state would get from district retail sales.

TIF stands for Tax Incremental Financing. The program allows use of local and state sales taxes to finance private economic development.

Erdey said hotel-motel taxes would not be included in the financing plan.

The proposed Juban Crossing development dates back to 2005. Construction was supposed to start in 2007, but problems cropped up including wetlands permits and the economy. Groundbreaking occurred in February 2011.

LSU economist Jim Richardson has estimated an additional sales tax revenue for the parish of between $27.9 million and $38.5 million once the retail phase is up and running.

Developer Stephen Keller, a principal with Creekstone Development, has said some 3,500 permanent jobs would be created as well as between 250 and 400 construction jobs.