West Monroe Aldermen_Thom Hamilton, Ben Westerburg and James Polk Brian.jpg

Photo by Zach Parker

The West Monroe Board of Aldermen established a new economic development district and approved a five-mil property tax to enhance economic activity within the new district’s boundaries.

Aldermen signed off on creating Highland Park Economic Development District during their regular meeting Tuesday night.

The district encompasses the former Trenton Street Golf Course. The city aims to develop the area of the former golf course fronting North 7th Street for commercial purposes. The area of the former golf course fronting Trenton Street to the east has been designated for residential development while the heart of the former golf course property has been set aside for recreational activities, including walking trails, as well as to relieve flooding in the Highland Park neighborhood.

Mayor Staci Mitchell previously said the area of the former golf course fronting North 7th Street was valued at some $1.6 million. The area to the east where residential development is expected to occur is worth some $500,000, according to Mitchell.

Aldermen approved levying a property tax in the new economic development district without a vote of the people because the district does not include residents.

Mitchell said revenues eventually generated by the five-mil property tax would be used to maintain the economic development district and to assist its development. She previously pointed out the property tax would not generate revenues for the city until development occurs within the district.

On a related front, the Board of Aldermen repealed a section of the code of ordinances that established Central Business Development District before agreeing to publish the city’s intent to establish the West Monroe Central Business Economic Development District.

City attorney Doug Caldwell said the Central Business Development District was established in the mid-1990s in hopes of developing parts of downtown West Monroe, but those plans did not pan out.

“It just didn’t work out at the time,” Caldwell said.

The proposed economic development district, or West Monroe Central Business Economic Development District, would extend from Mill Street through the downtown area, including Antique Alley, to Trapp’s restaurant.

“We excluded residents and included just businesses,” Mitchell said.

Like Highland Park Economic Development District, the Board of Aldermen could levy a property tax or sales tax within the boundaries of the Central Business Economic Development District to aid the district’s development. Either tax could be approved by the Board of Aldermen sans a vote of the people because the district does not include residents.

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