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Tax plan latest victim in Mayor-Metro Council spat

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Posted: Jul 27, 2011 10:31 PM by Ashley Rodrigue
Updated: Jul 27, 2011 10:31 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Baton Rouge, mayor, Kip Holden, Metro Council, Scott Wilson, bond, tax plan

BATON ROUGE- The East Baton Rouge Metro Council refused Wednesday to put Mayor Kip Holden's tax plan in motion toward a ballot in the fall.

It was Holden's third attempt to fund projects across the parish. It would have increased sales and property taxes to raise $740 million.

The Metro Council had to approve it first and voters would have had the final say in November.

But council members say their vote Wednesday means they will not be held hostage by the mayor's deadlines and by a plan that isn't good enough for their constituents.

The move was a shock to Holden.

"They're virtually playing Russian roulette with the lives and safety of the people of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish and I would hope that they would rethink their positions and I hope the public would come out forward," said Holden.

But Councilman Scott Wilson, who made the motion to boot the bond said, "When you get something that you've done on a third time and you don't have it until the end of July to tell this council, I don't think I'm playing Russian roulette."

Three council members, Joel Boe', Denise Marcelle and Tara Wicker voted against deletion simply because they felt the voters should have the final say.

"I was going to allow the people to make that decision, but I respect my colleagues for their vote and I'm sure they'll respect me for mine," said Marcelle.

Alison Gary, who voted in favor of Wednesday's action, says respect for all city leaders and for her constituents' top concern, crime, is her top priority. Word that District Attorney Hillar Moore was left out of the mix put her off from the bond.

"When I received that letter from Hillar and I read his points and I realized he hadn't been brought into the discussions for the bond it made me decide that this just needs to be rehashed completely."

But the mayor says these spats with council won't stop him from trying to bring the best to Baton Rouge.

"We're not out of it and I can tell you this, they'll be surprised," he said, "I think the public outcry is going to be enormous."

The mayor can call a special meeting of the Metro Council, or add it as a special item to the August 10th agenda to try to push the tax plan forward again, but either way, the council must approve it.

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