by Jen Gennaro, Editor
I bought a minivan last week – something I never thought I’d say; something I never thought I’d insist upon. After a great deal of haggling, the classic walkaway, and being reeled back in by a masterful dealership bait ‘n’ switch, (kudos to you, Curtis at Richards Honda) we entered the fifth circle of hell – the financier’s office – to seal the deal on a bright red Odyssey.
“Oh,” she says. “I see you live in Americana. That’ll be <pencil scratches> one percent extra on the sales tax.”
For those who haven’t paid much attention, Americana is part of a special taxation district called the Americana Economic Development District, a cooperative endeavor formed in 2011 between the City and the developers of the Americana TND. The AEDD is funded by an extra 1% sales tax assessed at all restaurants in Americana, as well as on any goods purchased that are delivered to residents with an Americana address. This brings the total sales tax rate within the AEDD to 10.95%.
I know a few hundred bucks extra may not seem like much on a big ticket item in the grand scheme, (especially not for a family of half a dozen who makes their living publishing a free magazine, amirite?!) but I sat down with Deanna Mankins, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Zachary, as well as District 3 Councilwoman Ambre DeVirgilio, to break this all down.
Mankins provided the following graph to explain sales tax assessment, noting that as part of the AEDD cooperative endeavor, the City of Zachary gives half of their tax collected to the AEDD, if the purchaser’s address is within it.
And here’s how the money works for those who visit the restaurants: Let’s say you grab dinner at Lit Pizza, and the bill is $30 plus tax. Because the restaurant is in the geographical boundaries of the AEDD, the total tax is 10.95% or $3.28. Of that, 60 cents (2%) goes to the City of Zachary, who then transfers 30 cents (half of their 2%) into the AEDD coffer. And the AEDD collects 1% of that total tax, or their own 30 cents. So, in this example of a $30 dinner at Lit, the AEDD funds grow by 60 cents.
These funds are distributed among the City and the entities that have developed Americana, then used for special projects within the AEDD’s geographic boundaries.
“An economic development district increases the economic development of a city via the construction and jobs that it brings in adding amenities to a city,” DeVirgilio says. “Things like streets, sewers, utilities, pedestrian connectivity, sidewalks, plazas, fountains, landscaping benches, design and construction of parks and open areas” are all within the scope of an EDD, she says, which helps attract and retain businesses and enhance the area’s overall economic vitality.
Earlier this month, the AEDD distributed $275,000 each to the City and the developers, and DeVirgilio spilled some pretty exciting beans about what’s coming up thanks to these funds.
“Along Mount Pleasant in front of Americana, the commercial section is coming. There’s going to be a huge and beautiful landscaping project installed in medians, and a Zachary gateway monument installed in the middle of the roundabout. The landscaping will include white fringe trees, oak trees, sweet magnolias, mulch rings around trees, drift roses, juniper,” and more, she says.
As for the monument, we hope to share some specifics about that in the print issue later this summer, but DeVirgilio says it’s going to be by a nationally recognized, highly regarded monument designer.
“I’m really excited about what’s coming to fruition in the AEDD because of this. Economic development districts create the ability for us to make upgrades to our city and improve aesthetics if we need to. I’m hoping to do this elsewhere to improve beautification throughout the city,” DeVirgilio says, noting that a workshop has been scheduled on June 13 for the Council to discuss potential EDDs in other Zachary areas.
For more information on the AEDD, click here.