Skip to main content

Let’s do a little simple math on the Opelousas downtown issue: 

Let’s pretend that these buildings had been in commerce for the last 40 years, providing jobs and sales taxes. To make it easy we can use even numbers. 

Let’s say 20 jobs making 30K a year. That’s $600,000 in payroll/year over 40 years we have lost 24M in income for local folks. This income would be spent on other taxable items, such as groceries, cars, homes generating more taxes to pay for maintenance of the city, parish. 

Let’s assume to pay these that a business generated just $2M annually in sales. The city would have collected a 5% tax rate for an annual total of $100K per year. Over 40 years that’s $4M.

This does not take into account, property taxes, school board taxes, property values, maintenance of public utilities . All of the citizens of Opelousas pay a huge price for allowing commercial properties to remain empty. Not just in the city but parish wide. We wonder why we have generational poverty, this is a perfect example. 

It is past time we force the hand of these property owners many of which do not live or support our community in any way to stop holding us hostage. Other communities have made the choice to use the power of government to grow and develop, encourage property owners to keep commercial properties in business, they have vision to see that a small investment today means a greater economic growth tomorrow. For years we have watched our politicians and community pass the buck, allowing an almost terminal slide into a ghost town. Our property values don’t grow, our children leave never to return and we don’t offer economic opportunities to those that remain. We are at a breaking point, without public/private partnerships most investors will not assume the risk of developing these properties back into commerce.

I’m all for the creation of jobs and putting our community to work. Yes, that means my tax dollars helping to create wealth for the community and others, I fully support the change. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. I fully support passing ordinances to help this community grow.

Gretchen Erlingson