Editor: Mass transit deserves support, but not CATS tax
When it comes to the 10-year, $180 million tax plan to sustain, grow and—now—save the Capital Area Transit System, Business Report Executive Editor JR Ball is a little torn. In his latest column, Ball says he ardently supports the goal of attaining a vibrant and sustainable mass transit system, adding that he likes the implementation aspects of the proposed plan to achieve that goal. But Ball also abhors changes made to the financing of the plan, which was done to get the issue before voters in Baton Rouge, Baker and Zachary on April 21, six months earlier than initially scheduled. "The proposal, to me, took a fatal turn in January when the Metro Council balked at solving CATS' $2 million funding shortfall, prompting transit officials to declare buses would stop running in July if a financial lifeline was not found. Consequently, the tax plan was changed so that it could do something proponents never intended—save CATS," Ball says. Moving the election date up six months required using pre-existing taxing districts that exclude some of CATS' biggest benefactors—including Towne Center, Perkins Rowe and the Mall of Louisiana, where an express route is proposed. "I refuse to accept that the ends—an improved and sustainable mass transit system—justify the means of a now fatally flawed funding mechanism," Ball concludes. "My position is to oppose this tax in April and then support the tax, as originally proposed and funded, either in November or some future election." Read the complete column here, and send your comments to [email protected].
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