Broome trading property for sales taxes in traffic plan revival

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome will again ask Baton Rouge voters to approve a tax to address traffic issues across the parish, hoping the use of sales taxes—rather than property taxes—makes it more palatable.

Though details are being finalized, Fred Raiford, who heads transportation and drainage for city-parish government, says the administration wants to ask voters in December to approve a half-cent sales tax that would raise $600 million to fund some 40 road projects. It’s expected those projects will be nearly the same as those the administration wanted to tackle in last year’s failed infrastructure plan.

Voters never got a say on that plan as the 5-mill property tax pitch was rejected by the Metro Council.

Administration officials plan to continue work on the specifics of the tax plan with the council, which must approve the measure by mid-October for it to appear on the Dec. 8 ballot. The proposal is expected to be introduced at the June 27 council meeting and decided on in late July.

Uncertain is how this pitch will impact other regional efforts to seeking taxes to improve traffic conditions in Baton Rouge and its surrounding parishes. Among the options under consideration by the newly created Capital Area Road and Bridge District is asking regional voters, including those in East Baton Rouge Parish, to approve a tax to help fund a new bridge across the Mississippi River.

Neither state Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, sponsor of the enacting legislation, nor Scott Kirkpatrick, head of CRISIS, could be reached for comment before Daily Report was published.

Raiford, however, says he believes improving local surface streets will help relieve habitual traffic woes on Interstate 10.

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