Tax on ballot to improve recreation district

By By Justin Phillips / American Press

Countless upgrades could be in the future for the Ward 3 Recreation District if residents decide to fund a new tax package

May 3.

The package would include a 10-year, 5.5-mill property tax going toward maintenance and operations, as well as up to $16 million

in bonds to be used for capital improvements.

On the surface, the tax package seems simple. The finances would help improve the recreation district as a whole. For Kip

Tejada, district executive director, the tax package is about much more than that.

“People should know that what we’re trying to do is enhance the city of Lake Charles,” Tejada said. “Now is the time for the

residents that want to see these improvements to come out.”

If the voters approve the propositions, the district would take over management of four parks — the Second Avenue Senior Center,

Martin Luther King Park, Huber Park and University Park. The parks are now owned by the city.

Tejada has a lengthy list of plans for improvements, including building an aquatic center and upgrading baseball fields, tennis

courts, gyms and dog parks. Tejada also mentioned the idea of providing a BMX park.

With the city looking at a possible population increase in the near future accompanying the proposed industry growth, Tejada

said, the idea is to create a city that caters to families.

“With the possible addition of these

families, having these recreational opportunities will play a huge part

in the city’s

growth,” Tejada said. “They’re going to want these facilities. If a

family wants to go on a bike ride on a Sunday afternoon,

they can. They don’t have to leave the city to enjoy an activity

together.”

Also on the ballot will be a pair of tax renewals: a one-cent sales tax and a quarter-cent sales tax. The penny tax, first

authorized in 1965, would collect for 25 years and generate about $21 million annually.

The quarter-cent sales tax was originally authorized in 1995 and would bring in about $5.3 million annually for 10 years.

The taxes help the city cover contributions and benefits for employees.

Early voting begins Saturday.