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Metro Council approves vote on new property tax

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BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council approved adding a property tax vote to the November ballot. 

The Council on Aging wants more money to fund its operation because of fears of half a million dollars in state cuts and other local government cuts. The organization that assists the elderly through programs like Meals on Wheels ended last year around $200,000 in the red.

Senior citizens dressed in purple shirts with signs saying "we paid our dues and our taxes," cheered a victory as the Metro Council approved bringing the measure to a vote.

Now they're asking for an additional $7.8 million annually. That's more than twice the current budget. According to a recent audit, that number is around $3.6 million.

"This is just about taking care of those who are less fortunate," said Council on Aging Chief Executive Officer Tasha Clark-Amar.

The Council on Aging says the money is desperately needed, especially for programs like Meals on Wheels.

Last year, the Council on Aging tried to raise money by opening a bingo hall but failed, ending the year about $200,000 in the red.

"We tried, it didn't work, we saw it wasn't working, we stopped," said Clark-Amar. "We're going to do the things we need to do to generate money to repair that, to fill that gap and press on."

Now facing a 30 percent cut from the state, leaders are worried some, if not all of their 15 senior centers will shut down.

Metro Council members are worried about adding another tax to an already tax-heavy year.

"It's a no-win situation no matter which way I vote," said council member Scott Wilson. "I've certainly got to look out for the seniors, but I got ot look out for the whole parish, too."

If voters approve the plan as is, if you own a home valued at $175,000, you would pay an extra $22 each year.

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