BRAC undecided on Broome’s transportation tax proposal

Baton Rouge Business Report

While the Baton Rouge Area Chamber was out in front of a proposed statewide gasoline tax to fund new transportation infrastructure projects earlier this year, it’s holding off on whether to support Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s proposed dedicated property tax to fund local road and traffic control projects until the mayor releases more details about her plan.

Those details could come as soon as this afternoon. Metro Council members, who are scheduled to introduce the proposed millage at their meeting this afternoon for consideration in August, say they’ve been promised by the administration they’ll get a list of proposed projects that would be funded by the five-mill tax before they convene at 4 p.m.

At least until then, BRAC isn’t taking a position on the measure.

“We’re awaiting details of the plan,” BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp says.

Knapp and other leaders of CRISIS, an industry-led coalition that studied the region’s transportation infrastructure needs and lobbied unsuccessfully for a statewide gasoline tax increase, met with Broome shortly after the session to discuss what the parish could do to address its chronic gridlock in the absence of a statewide solution.

CRISIS Executive Director Scott Kirkpatrick says the meeting didn’t hone in on specific projects for the parish but talked about higher level issues.

“She told us at that time she was interested in doing something,” Kirkpatrick says. “We talked about our hopes that whatever she proposed would be a robust package.”

A poll conducted earlier this month and paid for by nearly a dozen local business owners indicated that more than 65% of registered voters in the parish would support a five-mill property tax dedicated to “improving existing public roads, constructing new public roads and funding drainage projects.”

Though the mayor’s plan is already coming under fire in some quarters, council members are expected to introduce the proposed measure today so they can vote in August on whether to put the measure on the Nov. 18 ballot.

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