The pandemic will not deliver the devastating blow to the parish city coffers that some have been waiting for thanks to an anticipated sales tax growth and federal stimulus money that the parish of East Baton Rouge is receiving from the plan. American rescue.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome presented Metropolitan Council with a budget proposal for 2022 on Tuesday that included an increase of more than $ 50 million in projected revenue from last year. Her administration intends to use the extra money for flood mitigation, improved traffic, public safety, and economic development initiatives – mostly programs she has already announced and / or mentioned. in a certain capacity.
The proposed budget of over $ 1 billion, a 5.21% increase from the budget of over $ 980 million for 2021, will face a series of meetings over the next few weeks in which members of the board will hear from various departments about their proposed spending plans for next year. before it is considered for adoption at a special meeting on December 7.
Council members accepted the proposed budget without discussion on Tuesday.
“Our local economy is fundamentally strong and has done well after the pandemic,” Broome said in her budget message to council members. “The anticipated growth in the sales tax, along with funding for the US bailout, allows us to increase the general fund budget, which is well overdue.”
This increase in the General Fund, which represents 31% of the total budget of the city-parish, is equivalent to approximately $ 18.6 million. The one-time increase in federal stimulus funds is almost $ 8 million, and sales tax revenue forecast for next year is set at nearly $ 7 million, with general increases also planned for taxes on gambling, business tax collections, property taxes and other income. .
All signs point to Metropolitan Council having approved Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s spending plan for the second round of…
The parish of East Baton Rouge is set to receive a total of $ 165.4 million in US bailout money, which is being distributed in two allotments – the first of which was in May and the second to follow around the same time next year.
The board is expected to adopt Broome’s proposed allocation for the $ 95 million in ARP funds it already received on Thursday. About $ 41 million is for drainage improvement projects. Under the proposed budget, Broome wants to use $ 7.9 million to restore funding cut in 2020 to public works and city-parish central service agencies.
The mayor said that $ 2.25 million will be set aside for the elimination of the plague, $ 1.97 million to purchase fire fighting equipment, $ 250,000 to replace the telephone system of the Public Defender’s Office, $ 250,000 for youth employment, $ 15 million to establish a new stormwater division within environmental services and $ 1.96 million for grant management.
“Long-term funding solutions will be recommended as part of a utility study commissioned by the Department of Environmental Services,” Broome said regarding continued funding for operations within the new stormwater division, which , according to her, will include 12 new positions.
Money has been earmarked for additional fire and police academies next year to address ongoing staff shortages amid the alarming spike in gun violence in the city parish.
After years of worsening staff shortages, the number of sworn officers in the Baton Rouge Police Department has fallen to its lowest level …
The proposed budget for 2022 also includes the annual allocation of $ 47.8 million in sales tax revenue from Broome’s nearly $ 1 billion MovEBR road improvement plan and an additional $ 9 million for the 30-year voter-approved sales tax bill debt service.
The mayor said that as of October 1, five of the projects included in the massive plan were in the planning stage, the parish city is in the process of concluding a right-of-way agreement with 20 others, 22 are in the design phase and 29 are under construction.
Many costs associated with MovEBR projects have increased as a result of the pandemic, parish city officials said.
“Some projects are being accelerated and other projects will have a more extended pre-construction period to meet the requirements of other permitting agencies,” she said.