By Jim Wilkerson
An additional 1.75% sales tax will be imposed on the Power and Water Economic Development District (PWEDD) on the east side of Ruston. This tax will be added on top of the Lincoln Parish and Ruston sales taxes (6.0%), meaning total local sales taxes for the district will be 7.75%.
“The developer (for PWEDD) asked for an additional 1.75% sales tax, which I think is a lot, but that is what he wanted,” Mayor Ronny Walker said.
This tax is the same amount as the one that was implemented for the Hotel-Restaurant Economic Development District (EDD #1), which encompasses all the hotels and restaurants in the Ruston area. And like EDD #1, the added sales tax for PWEDD will go to the private developer, Michael Echols, to help make further improvements to the district in an effort to attract businesses, residents, and jobs.
“Right now, the developer has two restaurants and a fitness center coming into the district,” Walker noted.
“There are currently three phases,” he continued. “Phase one is the development of commercial space and condos. And phases two and three will be the construction of apartment complexes.”
Walker said that the sales tax would only apply to this specific district and would not be imposed on anyone involuntarily. Potential residents and business owners who move into the district will do so with the full knowledge that total local sales taxes there are 7.75%.
In June of this year, the City of Ruston sold the site where PWEDD is located to Echols for a discounted price of $337,000, based off how many jobs were estimated to be created.
Walker broke it down: “Let’s say – and I’m just throwing out numbers here – if the developer says he’ll create 50 jobs, he has a 10-year period to create 50 jobs. If he does not create 50 jobs in that time frame, there is what is called a ‘clawback,’ where the city takes back any benefits and discounts given to the developer.”
PWEDD is the newest among the three economic development districts in Ruston. The other economic development district not yet mentioned in this article is Cooktown EDD, where T.J. Maxx, Hobby Lobby, Ulta Beauty, Five Below and Rack Room Shoes are located.
The primary purpose of these districts is to attract businesses and create more jobs.
“If we didn’t develop the shopping center where T.J. Maxx is located, the businesses would never have come,” Walker said.
When asked what actions the City takes when it creates an economic development district, Walker responded, “The City simply provides infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, sewer, etc.” Almost everything else is left to the private developer.
For more on Ruston’s economic development districts, visit https://www.ruston.org/economic-development.
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