‘Business Report’ Publisher: Why doesn’t Baton Rouge government work?

    Rolfe McCollister St. George

    The latest example of government failing its taxpayers and citizens is the recent Business Report cover story—”Stung”—about the escalating costs and fees for a new headquarters for Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control. Initially approved for $6.5 million, the cost has escalated to $11.1 million, with every increase in taxpayer spending approved by the Metro Council.

    As angering, writes Publisher Rolfe McCollister in his latest column, is that the politically-connected Gary Beard, the project’s third-party manager, has seen his fees balloon to $1.2 million.

    So what’s been the response to this outrageous example of incompetent oversight? Two council members called for the resignation of MARC’s director, who declined, and now the council will consider terminating him. Mayor Sharon Weston Broome was quick to both declare her outrage as well as make sure everyone knows MARC doesn’t report to the administration but has so far abstained, writes McCollister, from any actual leadership.

    What none of them have done, he points out, is suggest taxpayers should get a refund or attempt to claw-back any of MARC’s public dollars.

    Which, he concludes, is why East Baton Rouge Parish voters, who rely on their elected officials to look out for their interests, are ever-reluctant to approve new taxes. Officials regularly declare the need for more money, but stories like this tend to disprove that point.

    “Why does government spend your tax dollars so carelessly,” McCollister asks. “Because it’s not their money.”

    Consequently, he suggests, perhaps the only way for government to change is for voters to start rejecting any tax proposal—new or renewal—that gets on the ballot. “Government may never change if we keeping giving it more money.”

    McCollister’s column also comments on the controversy plaguing the parish attorney’s office—asking how much longer are we going to ignore the problem—while also taking time to salute the current success of LSU’s athletic teams. Read the full column here and send your comments to editor@businessreport.com.

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