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City official wants EBR Council on Aging removed from spending tax money

1 month 1 week 2 days ago May 18, 2017 May 18, 2017 Thursday, May 18 2017 May 18, 2017 2:55 PM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE – Metro Councilman Dwight Hudson will ask his colleagues for strict oversight of the recently-passed property tax that will fund elderly affairs operations through the EBR Council on Aging.

Hudson told WBRZ's Chief Investigator, Chris Nakamoto, Thursday, he filed an agenda item for an upcoming meeting that would rededicate the tax, allowing another agency – either the parish or a non-profit – to administer the money and not tie funds directly to the EBR Council on Aging. Hudson believes breaking the bind over the Council on Aging and the tax would allow for better oversight of how funds are spent. He added, his plan does not repeal the tax, just changes the procedure for spending the money - which, he said, is rightly devoted to taking care of the parish's elderly population. 

The adjustment, however, would require approval from voters since voters approved the tax in November, which explicitly tied the funds to the agency.

“We have every right to do this,” Hudson argued in an interview with WBRZ. Hudson said government attorneys vetted the proposal.

The EBR Council on Aging has been at the center of controversy recently over complaints of its management. Numerous WBRZ News 2 Investigative stories broke details of a feud between the Council on Aging's chief operators and the family of a deceased woman who are locked in a feud over the woman's estate. Following WBRZ News 2 television reports and posts on WBRZ.com, city leaders questioned how the agency would spend its new tax, prompting a heated discussion at a recent Metro Council meeting where council members who supported the tax walked out of the meeting, canceling any further discussion on the issue until a later date.

Hudson was elected to the Metro Council in 2016 and represents District Nine, which covers the southeast portion of the parish within the border of the Amite River, Bayou Manchac, Pecue Lane, Jones Creek and O'Neal Lane.

Coincidentally, EBR Council on Aging held a board meeting Thursday evening and elected new officers and approved an amended budget. Attorney Jennifer Moisant was appointed as the new board chair. After the meeting, WBRZ requested an interview but Moisant said that just being appointed a few minutes prior, she was not well-versed in Hudson's proposed agenda item.

Metro Council member and COA board member Donna Collins Lewis said she is not in favor of Hudson's agenda item. She said she's concerned with how it would change what's already been voted on.

"It would change everything for the seniors that need to be served with the money that's been allocated," she said. "Taxpayers have voted to approve the millage, I think we need to go forward with it."

Hudson's proposal is set to be introduced in June, then discussed at a meeting in July.

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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