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BREC tax renewal up for vote Saturday

1 year ago April 04, 2014 Apr 4, 2014 Friday, April 04 2014 Friday, April 04, 2014 5:04:24 PM EDT in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - BREC says they plan to improve their 12 existing community parks and possibly create another, if their dedicated property tax is renewed in the April 5 election.

The tax, renewed every 10 years makes up about $227 million in funding for BREC parks.

On Saturday's ballot, voters will see a single proposal to renew the combined 6.2 mills property tax. A 2-mill portion would bring in about $73 million used for capital improvement projects. The other 4.2-mill will go toward BREC's maintenance and operations.

BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight says without the tax, the parks we know today wouldn't exist.

"If you don't invest in your park system, you won't have a park system," said McKnight. "Our hope is to go in and repair those structures and put new playgrounds in place where we need to have playgrounds."

BREC says they plan to leverage as much of the money as possible and match what they take in, with grants, so the necessary programs are available for kids, seniors and recreational use.

A series of public meetings will come to a close May 1. McKnight says the public is asking for more at those meetings.

"They want safe places to walk and jog and ride their bikes," said McKnight.

While many of the parks are enjoyed, some people worry their tax dollars aren't being used properly.

"We have our tax dollars here, and we trust you to do what you're supposed to do with it," said Richard Collins. "You take it and go spend it all in one place, and leave some of the other subdivisions that are older, that's wrong."

Collins says BREC tore down a recreational building in James Watson Park behind his house. The building had a hole in the roof and became a liability. BREC held a community meeting and the people at that meeting, voted to tear it down. Collins asked BREC to rebuild, but they said it's not in the plan.

Collins said he wants the tax renewal removed.

"We need to be going forward," he said. "I really don't want you to take my tax dollars and do this kind of stuff with it."

BREC is currently studying parks that no longer hold purpose and are taking a closer look at the city's BREC golf courses and whether or not a repurposing plan is in order.

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