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Some metro council members only want one tax on ballot

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BATON ROUGE - Some metro council members say two tax initiatives is too much. The mayor-president's office had two tax proposals introduced at the council meeting Wednesday night, one for roads and one for a mental health facility known as the Bridge Center.

"I support both programs but not the Bridge Center for a tax," said Councilmember Donna Collins-Lewis.

She said the 30 year-1/2 cent sales tax to widen roads and improve traffic flow is more than worth it. However, Collins-Lewis said there's another way to pay for the mental health facility, one that would house mentally ill people who get arrested.

"Looking at some pre-trial diversion policies would save the city-parish some money," she said.

Collins-Lewis wants to lock up fewer people awaiting trial if they pass a risk assessment and use the savings for the mental health facility. She's not the only metro council member who has a problem with the 10 year-1.5 mills property tax proposal for the facility.

"I think people already have tax fatigue," said Councilmember Chandler Loupe. He also supports the road tax and worries two tax initiatives on the December ballot will cause voters to say no to both.

"It may turn people off from passing one or the other," he said.

Metro council members will vote in August whether the taxes get sent to voters. The mayor-president's office said they'll hold public meetings before the decision.

"We have to sell it. I think the mayor's job is to help the public and the council to understand what it actually means and what the benefit will be," said Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel.

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