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Attorney Ray Cornelius Interviewed on Growing Trend of Tax Increment Financing Districts

11/13/2013

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Adams and Reese attorney Ray Cornelius, who wrote Louisiana’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) law, said funding recreation facilities is currently one of the most popular uses for these districts and TIFs are a really powerful tool when Cornelius spoke before a debate on TIF districts held by the Opelousas-St. Landry Chamber of Commerce. The debate was featured in The Daily World Opelousas newspaper article, “Are TIF Districts In Our Future?”
 
The fate of a Tax Increment Financing district to help fund a new hotel for Opelousas has generated a great deal of controversy, but that debate has also created a great deal of interest in such districts. Although there has never been a TIF district in St. Landry Parish, they are an increasingly popular option in the state.
 
In its simplest form, a TIF district is a special tax — usually a sales tax — levied on a tightly defined area to raise the funds needed to pay for the infrastructure and other improvements that area needs to grow.
 
As an example, Cornelius spoke of a TIF district that is being created by the City of Scott in Lafayette Parish. That city, located just south of Interstate 10, has recently incorporated a stretch of the highway to the north. Because of its location on one of the nation’s busiest highways, the area north of the interstate is expected to quickly attract hotels, restaurants and other amenities.
 
But millions of dollars Scott doesn’t have will be needed to put in the water and sewer lines, create the service road beside the highway and make other improvements these businesses will need. Scott’s answer is to create a TIF district for the area, with the extra taxes created by all the new businesses to retire the bonds needed to pay for the project.

At Adams and Reese, Cornelius is the Team Leader of the firm’s Public Finance team. Over the last few years, Cornelius and Adams and Reese public finance attorneys have been involved in project financings exceeding $6 billion in New Orleans and more than $17 billion in Louisiana projects. Cornelius has been involved in the development of public/private partnerships that have provided equity and incentives necessary to make projects viable and to entice the development of a large number of major new and expansion economic development projects in Louisiana.
 
Cornelius is the President of the board of the Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association (LIDEA).