Mayor's tax proposal on Metro Council agenda
BATON ROUGE - A proposed sales tax is on the agenda for the Metro Council meeting today in Baton Rouge. Mayor Kip Holden is asking for a 1/4 cent sales tax increase to fund public safety projects.
Holden's proposed $335 million tax plan would also fund capital improvements. It would allow the parish to build a new prison, juvenile facility and mental health center. It also includes a $500,000 property tax hike to pay for operating costs at that mental health facility and a $1.5 million increase for operations of a larger jail.
If the proposal is approved by voters in May, some residents will pay $9.25 in combined local and state sales tax, while those in Baker and Central would pay $9.75.
Metro Council members News 2 spoke to agree the changes are necessary but disagreed on the method for paying for them.
"When we look at the cost-benefit analysis and you weigh the cost of not having the public safety components in place and it's actually costing our city, then the benefit truly outweighs the cost," Tara Wicker opines.
Metro Councilman John Delgado disagrees.
"One way of another we're going to have to build a new prison, but do we have to do it with taxpayer dollars?" he questions. "I don't think so."
Delgado plans to bring up another solution at today's meeting. He thinks we should take the $5 million/year to ship prisoners to other parishes which could fund about half the project over the next 25 years. Working with the federal prison is also an option to help pay for improvements.
We'll update you on the discussion throughout the day on News 2 and WBRZ.com