A year ago Mayor Sharon Weston Broome brought a tax plan to the Metro Council attempting to address Baton Rouge’s horrible traffic issues. At the time I wrote an open letter and advocated against the tax plan. Last years plan was smaller, it was a property tax, and I had concerns about the equity of the projects in the plan. Mayor Broome and team lost that battle last year at the council and went back to the drawing board. This year they presented MoveBR, the plan is bigger, better, and is a more solid plan for the future of roads and growth in Baton Rouge. A plan I fully support and hope you will join me in supporting.
On December 8th you and I get the opportunity to go vote for the plan presented this year. I want you to explain as best I can a few reasons I support the plan. Let’s be real with each other for a moment, none of us really want to pay extra taxes. However, we also don’t want to sit in traffic for an extra 45 minutes in the morning and afternoon than we need to. This tax plan gives us a chance to make positive change for the growth of our community.
The Right Mix Of Projects.
Starting with North Baton Rouge, projects like expanding lane capacity on Mickens Road and side walks on Harding Blvd are not just needed projects, but sound projects. Airline Highway from Florida Blvd. to i110 will have increased lane capacity. That’s about 7 miles of road work in north Baton Rouge on Airline Hwy. Sherwood Forest extension is a new roadway being created from Greenwell Springs Road to Joor Road. This project will help ease traffic that builds in the area with people commuting through north Baton Rouge. Other major projects in my opinion are projects that are in what I call common areas of the parish. Common areas for me are parts of town we all use regardless of where we live. Be it for healthcare, shopping, or other activities we all know Bluebonnet Blvd. is a busy area of Baton Rouge. There will be more lanes on Bluebonnet. Increasing turning lane capacity on Jefferson Highway will help decrease some of the backups that consistently happen in the area. I think the combination of projects in this plan give Baton Rouge a fighting chance at solving our issues long term. Not to mention, if we are going to hope to have a new bridge land in Baton Rouge to solve some of our interstate traffic issues, the projects along Nicholson Drive are important. Here is a full list of the projects in the plan, it gives you the districts, the cost, and the planned work for the area. From Zachary to Hoo Shoo Too Road, there is something in the mix for your community, border to border of the parish.
The Right Type Of Tax.
The MovEBR plan is a sales tax. Typically I’m extremely slow to support new sales taxes because of their impact on families on a fixed income. Mayor Broome and company solved the problem, by creating a tax plan that is a sales tax, but it excludes groceries, it excludes prescriptions, and it excludes utilities. This is big, because it means that our elderly residents and families just getting started don’t have to pay more than their fair share for the roads we all use. The benefit to a sales tax plan for roads is that it allows people who are just passing through who stop to join in paying for the roads. Such as the many residents in Livingston and Ascension parishes that use our roads daily as they commute to work. This means every time those commuters stop at a gas station, they pay the same half cent sales tax for driving on our roads. A property tax would mean only residents who live in our parish would pay the tax, but travelers should get a shot to pitch in as well. This is the right type of tax, because it brings us all to the table to pay the bill.
A Chance For Equity.
Mayor Broome campaigned on creating equitable opportunities. While she has the opportunity to do that every day in her role as mayor, a tax plan allows new resources to create new upward mobility through contracts and job creation. Last years tax plan was a smaller dollar amount, which limits not just the capacity to solve our traffic issues, but the capacity to create contracts and jobs. This plan is nearly a billion dollars collected over 30 years in a half cent tax collected. Having a mayor that has committed to creating equity, gives us a real opportunity to hold the mayor at her word by passing this tax. Many of the contracts in city parish have been in place for years, this is all new money, new opportunities. Meaning we don’t have to use all the same old people all the time. We can no longer afford for billions of dollars to move in this community and the only financial benefactors of those resources in contracts are one group of people. The pie that we all contribute to baking, shouldn’t just benefit all of us in roads, but it should benefit all of us in financial resources. That is how we build wealth and decrease crime in Baton Rouge and build a more equitable fair community to live in.
This is the right mix of projects, the right type of tax, and a chance at equity for those reasons it’s earned my support. If Baton Rouge is going to grow and become a stronger city, we’ve got to make the right investments in our future. This is a sound plan. I’ve lived in Baton Rouge 27 of my 33 years, long enough to remember when Perkins Road didn’t have Perkins Rowe and when Walmart was at the corner of Perkins and Acadian where Trader Joe’s is located. Having lived here that long, I can remember the investment tax payers made in the early 2000’s that took Perkins to 4 lanes and created the space for redevelopment and new development to happen all over the area. That doesn’t happen for the next generation of Baton Rouge if we stay home. Considering the information above I’m asking you to join me in voting YES on MovEBR. Early voting ends Saturday December 1st and Election Day is December 8th. Let’s all give each other the gift of less traffic for Christmas. Go Vote, and vote YES to MovEBR.