BREC to consider boosting coffers with effective tax increase tonight

The BREC Board of Commissioners tonight will decide whether to roll forward the property tax approved by voters several years ago, a move that would generate nearly $1 million in additional revenues annually for the park system.

It’s unclear how the board will vote, but the measure is expected to be controversial—not so much because the move, if approved, would result in higher taxes per se, but because the public is not being given an opportunity to decide the matter at the polls.

BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight says she doesn’t have a feel for which direction the board will take, but she is expecting a packed house for the 5 p.m. meeting.

“There will be people both for and against it, and I am OK with that because as a citizen you are entitled to share your opinion and your thoughts,” McKnight says. “But if you are saying this is a tax increase  that would not be the truth. If we don’t roll forward we would automatically roll down and I really wish people would understand that.”

McKnight and others who support the roll forward have argued that voters in 2012 approved the current tax rate, which is 14.4 mills, and that the roll forward would merely keep the rate the same. Still, if approved, the roll forward will result in higher property taxes because the parish’s tax base has grown since the rate was established in 2012.

Supporters of the measure note that individual homeowners only will see a tax increase of a few dollars if the roll forward is approved. That money, they say, is needed to help maintain operations and continue implementing the system’s strategic plan.

Opponents, however, say voters should be allowed to decide on the ballot whether to raise taxes on themselves.

Tonight’s meeting will be held at BREC’s headquarters, 6201 Florida Blvd. See the full agenda.

—Stephanie Riegel

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