The Lafayette Parish Council’s recent vote to increase property taxes may negatively affect homeowners in Lafayette.
After a lengthy discussion that went well into the night, the Lafayette Parish Council approved an ordinance Tuesday, Sept. 1, to raise property taxes in the parish. Though the council presented the tax increase as a small amount to pay for continued services, many residents stood in opposition.
Adrienne Fontenot, CEO of Acadian Home Builders Association Inc., said she is unsure what the increase would do to the Lafayette housing market.
“It is a burden on the residential property owners,” said Fontenot.
The tax increase is set to make up the 6.6% decrease in taxable property in the parish this year
During the meeting, Fontenot asked the council to push back the vote for two weeks to give her team more time to look over the changes. The ordinance proposal took place only two weeks before the vote, leaving Fontenot and others with little time to discuss the increase with the Lafayette Parish Council.
The effects of the ordinance will not be extremely harmful, according to Fontenot. Yet, with economic uncertainty, residents’ tighter incomes, and the rising cost of lumber, Fontenot has concerns.
“Will $40 be the difference in someone being able to afford the home?” said Fontenot.
A $1000 increase in the median price of a new home could keep 158,857 American households from affording a home, according to Fontenot, citing a National Association of Home Builders 2020 study.
Susan Holliday, CEO of the Realtor Association of Acadiana also attended the meeting to ask the council members for a hold on the vote for the tax increase so homeowners could have more time to be heard.
“Property owners are going to feel an impact with this,” said Holliday.
Renters in Lafayette may also feel the impact of the tax increase. If landlords and apartment complexes must pay more taxes, they may make up for it by increasing rent prices, according to Holliday. .
Both Holliday and Fontenot agreed that the council had a tough decision to make and hope a long-term solution can be figured out. Though, what that solution is seems uncertain.
“We’ve asked some of the council people and I don’t think they have a good handle on it [a long-term solution],” said Holliday.
The parish currently has $50,000 in the parish general fund, according Councilman Kevin Naquin.
“The long-term solution is not to keep on going for the property owners,” said Naquin.
The council voted 3-1 on the ordinance. Councilman Josh Carlson voted in opposition to the increase and Councilman John Guilbeau was counted absent.