In a rare moment of apparent bipartisanship, several prominent tax opponents are lining up behind Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s proposed roads tax proposal, MovEBR, on the eve of Saturday’s election
In Central, Central City News Publisher Woody Jenkins is endorsing the half-cent sales tax, which is expected to generate nearly $1 billion for parishwide road improvements. Though Jenkins says “it’s always hard to sell a tax in Central,” he’s supporting MovEBR for a couple of reasons.
“When you give money to the general operating budget, you leave it in the hands of the politicians and the bureaucrats and that’s where a lot of conservatives get upset,” he says. “But that’s not what this is. These are highly controlled dollars that can only be used on capital expenditures that are desperately needed.”
Several of those expenditures would be made in Central, which Jenkins says has gridlock that rivals the worst of traffic tie ups in south Baton Rouge.
“These projects were not selected for political reasons,” he says. “They were data driven.”
Jenkins also likes the fact that though the tax is a 30-year measure, Broome’s administration has estimated the bonds could be paid off early, perhaps in less than 20 years, which would mean the tax would end sooner.
Also behind the measure is Central area Metro Councilman Scott Wilson, who has been helping line up support, as well as councilwoman Denise Amoroso, one of two council members who voted earlier this year against putting the tax measure on the ballot.
Amoroso says she voted against the measure at the time because it was “grouped with a lot of other things and we did not get to vote on it alone.”
Now that it is going before voters, however, Amoroso says she supports the tax, though not with great enthusiasm.
“I don’t like taxes,” she says. “But we can’t keep putting it off.”
Still opposing the measure is councilman Dwight Hudson, who joined Amoroso in voting against putting it on the ballot.
While Hudson says he recognizes tax increases will eventually be needed to solve the parish’s infrastructure problems, he wants to see government reforms first.
“That means addressing retirement reform to stave off long term costs and dedicated taxes,” he says.