Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Budget Fight-AROD

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BATON ROUGE-  The East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved a $745 million spending plan for 2012, but not without making several changes that put city-parish administrators on edge.

The council gave pay raises to Mosquito Control workers and Constables using department surpluses and the city-parish's reserve fund.  Members also tapped into that fund to give a Baton Rouge detox center $150,000 as well as $250,000 to the District Attorney, because the mayor removed that from the budget, reversing council's 2011 decision to do so.

Metro Council also took more than $800,000 in economic development dollars away from the mayor's control, into their own.  They did the same with community centers around the city-parish.

Per Bones Addison's request, $115,000 was taken from one non-profit organization, that's been part of the city-parish budget for years, and given to an organization, run by a former state senator, that's never been part of the budget.

Neither DPW raises nor CATS' concerns were dealt with.

Many of the votes on the changes just barely passed, and a few council members expressed their concerns with the suggestions.

The mayor says using the reserve money will put the city-parish in a dangerous financial position, and affect credit ratings.  He also says giving raises to some and not all will come back to haunt the Metro Council.

The mayor says council just shifted the fight between them onto taxpayers' shoulders, while council says it's saving money from worthless spending and sending a necessary message at the same time.

The new spending plan kicks in next month.



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