The board of directors of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber today announced its support for the tax millage renewal of the Capital Area Transit System, which will appear on the Nov. 13 ballot.
BRAC’s support for the renewal, however, comes at the same time as leaked audio recordings of conversations between CATS’ second-in-command and a former employee are raising questions about whether millions of CATS’ funding dollars are missing or were misspent.
As WBRZ-TV reports, the conversation was so concerning that Metro Council member Dwight Hudson forwarded it to District Attorney Hillar Moore and the Louisiana legislative auditor, though CATS denies the veracity of the claims.
BRAC reports that its support for the millage renewal stems from the transit system’s positive impact on the economy, the crucial role it plays in connecting workers to jobs and the following metrics:
- CATS connects to over 225,000 jobs across the route system;
- Ninety-one percent of CATS customers have no other transportation option.
- Sixty-three percent of riders use bus service at least five days per week.
- Fifty-three percent of riders rated the system good or excellent in a recent FuturePAC poll.
- Independent economic modeling by the UL Lafayette Blanco Center for Public Policy estimates that the agency will contribute $1.6 billion in economic impact to the Baton Rouge area in the next decade.
- Revenue generated from the millage to be renewed represents 60% of CATS’ annual budget.
BRAC says in its announcement that it has asked CATS’ management and board to increase and improve agency transparency and accountability regarding annual performance and fiscal management of taxpayer dollars.