Monsour says redevelopment authority funding to run out by end of next year
While the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority is moving forward with plans for the redevelopment of the old Entergy site on Government Street and also getting ready to begin construction on Ardendale—the RDA board is scheduled to approve a contract for infrastructure work at its Aug. 18 meeting—the agency's funding remains in limbo. The RDA has about $1.5 million, which is enough money to keep its doors open through 2015. After that it will have to find a permanent source of funding to cover both operations and project costs. "If we've got 18 months of funding to keep us in business, we—the board and the community—have to collectively identify how the RDA is going to be funded," says RDA President and CEO Walter Monsour. "So far, all of our programs have been funded with grants or Community Development Block Grant funds or Gustav funds, and while RDAs certainly need to have access to grants no RDA can live off of grants alone to fund their programs." As Monsour has said repeatedly over the past two years, the RDA needs a constant revenue stream that can be used to jump-start projects like Ardendale or the Entergy site redevelopment, now called 1509 Government. In the past, Monsour has suggested such a revenue stream could come from tax increment financing, a bond issue or some other sort of dedicated tax. None of those ideas has ever been formally presented to the city-parish, however. Monsour says he believes the RDA board will begin to look at the issue in earnest this fall. "We think we have made a significant impact on the community in the short time we have been in existence," he says. "Now it's time for the community to decide how we should move forward." —Stephanie Riegel
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