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Some Metro Councilmemebers like new road tax plan better than last one

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BATON ROUGE - Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome had a series of private meetings with metro council members Wednesday about a number of issues including her new road tax plan. The mayor wants the metro council to place the initiative on the December ballot.

"I like that the funding source would now be a sales tax," said Councilwoman Chauna Banks. She voted against the Mayor's road tax plan last year when it was a property tax.

"The sales tax allows for more drivers from outside the parish to pay for it, not just homeowners," she said.

The final plan has yet to be presented, but Councilman Matt Watson said he was told it will be a 1/3 cent sales tax for thirty years. It will pay for a number of road widening projects, traffic light upgrades, and new sidewalk construction throughout East Baton Rouge Parish.

It's not the only tax initiative for roads currently in the works. The state legislature recently approved a five-parish taxing district including East Baton Rouge Parish which would pay for a new bridge across the Mississippi River.

It's not clear how much would have to be raised in taxes or when the plan would be sent to voters. Metro Council members who went on record Wednesday dismissed concerns a vote on the mayor's plan would diminish taxpayers' appetite for the bridge project.

"We have to improve our streets first, there's no doubt about that," said Councilman Chandler Loupe.

Council members expect to take their first vote on the mayor's tax plan in the coming weeks.

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