Gonzales Planning Chair/Councilman endorse Hotel Occupancy Tax

Planning Chair Frank Cagnolatti with former commissioner, Terry Richey (file photo).

In mid-2017 Gonzales’ Planning Commission Chairman Frank Cagnolatti began researching the merits of a Hotel Occupancy Tax within the city limits.  With his friend and former commissioner Terry Richey, Cagnolatti concluded the assessment was a better option than the proposed (1/2%) general sales tax rejected by city voters in October 2017.  Richey passed away early this year but Cagnolatti carried on the work, culminating in Saturday’s election to impose a 2% increase on hotel room occupancy tax within Gonzales’ city limits.

“I give my dear friend and valued colleague the lion’s share of the credit here,” Cagnolatti remembered.  “It was Terry who pointed out all the nearby cities which have enacted similar occupancy taxes, all of them more than what is being proposed on Saturday’s ballot.”

If they had their way it would have appeared on the ballot last year instead of the general sales tax.

Based on accumulated data the occupancy tax is expected to generate $500,000 annually dedicated toward building and, thereafter, maintaining an “event and conference center.”

Cagnolatti registers mild surprise that the local hotel lobby has vigorously opposed the tax.

“We believe the conference center will generate more business for the hotels, more than making up for any lost revenues due to a relatively small tax,” he reasoned.  “Those concerns aside, we always put the interests of our residents first and we believe the center will benefit our city for decades to come.”

The chairman points to Ascension Parish Tourism’s March 2017 study which concluded “demand for a conference and convention center within Ascension Parish.”

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Unfortunately for the parish it cannot provide services so attractive to business including the hotel industry.  Numerous hotels have been built along Hwy 30 over the last decade, all of them within Gonzales’ city limits.

“That’s because the city provides those services which Ascension Parish does not,” Cagnolatti pointed out.  “We had approximately 1600 hotel rooms last year, with more on the way, and every one of them utilizes gas, water, sewer, police and fire protection provided by the City of Gonzales.”

It all costs money.  City Councilman Kirk Boudreaux knows it as well as anyone.

“We expect the Performing Arts Conference & Events Center to be an economic engine for Gonzales for decades to come,” Boudreaux said.  “Local business and industry has been very receptive to the center.”

Councilman Kirk Boudreaux [file photo]

“As a citizen of Gonzales I am looking forward to the day when I can attend those dance recitals, graduations, and all those other events in our city,” he added.