by Malcolm Butler
Three decades ago former Ruston Mayor Hilda Taylor Perritt made a decision that 30 years later is still paying dividends for the city.
Back in the early 1990s, Taylor Perritt opted Ruston into the Tax Incremental District (TID). The City of Ruston and the City of Monroe were the only two in the state to do so at the time and it has generated tens of millions of dollars for Ruston since its inception.
With the TID set to expire in 2033, Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker said a bill has already passed through the house and is now waiting on the senate vote that would extend it through the year 2048. That vote is set to take place today.
Walker stated numerous times over the past six months how the decision by Taylor Perritt decades ago was instrumental in the January news that Ruston will be home to the first Buc-ee’s in the state of Louisiana.
“Without Hilda Taylor’s foresight to do a tax incremental district, we wouldn’t have most of the service roads in our city today therefore we wouldn’t have Tarbutton Road and interchange therefore we wouldn’t have Buc-ee’s,” said Walker. “The TID funds all of that.”
The tax incremental district runs parallel along I-20 through the City of Ruston, and the state receives 4.5 percent sales tax from any businesses located within that footprint. The state in turn sends back 40 percent of that total (1.78 percent) that Ruston can use for infrastructure-type work, but only within that tax incremental district footprint (roads, bridges, water, sewer, electricity).
Walker said this would be the second time that the TID has been extended in Ruston since its inception, an important move with Buc-ee’s and the Tarbutton Road development looming.
Why? The water, sewer and electrical infrastructure and all the utility extensions that will service the Buc-ee’s development area will be bonded through TID monies. The price tag on that infrastructure is approximately $6 million.
“If we bond something out, we bond it out for 20 years,” said Walker. “So you have to have a tax that goes 20 years. Our TID was set to run out in 2033. So we asked for an extension through the legislature through 2048. That’s a piece of the puzzle. For us to be able to bond out our infrastructure for the Buc-ee’s area on Tarbutton Road, we needed to extend our TID to make it good for 20 years.
“We can’t just build out water, sewer and electrical for Buc-ee’s. We have to build it out for all that development area. We have to anticipate what that will look like. It’s just a long process.”
Walker gave credit to State Representatives Chris Turner, Jay Morris, and Jay Luneau, and Patrick Jefferson for helping with the TID extension.
“They did one heck of a job with getting the bill through both committees,” said Walker. “Now we just wait on the vote from the senate.”
During the past 20 years, funding with tax incremental district dollars has provided $58 million worth of infrastructure in Ruston, including $20 million for the Tarbutton Road interchange.
“Over the last 20 years, we have done $77 million worth of work in the tax incremental district area, most of that in the last eight years,” said Walker. “Out of that $77 million, the feds put in $9 million, the state put in $10 million and the City of Ruston put in $58 million. The service roads are all state roads but the City of Ruston paid for three-fourths of it. That’s the reason TIDs are so good.