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The East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Finance reported a $3 million increase in sales tax collection yesterday for the first six months of 2008.  When I see income increases in the city parish budget of this magnitude, I am more convinced than ever Mayor Kip Holden’s proposed tax increase is the last thing we need.

Mayor Kip Holden and city government need to work within the confines of the current budget.  The concept we should embrace is to spend money more wisely and pay as we go.  We need adjustments in current spending, not excuses for increased spending.

The city parish budget includes a mission statement to ‘provide the citizens of this parish with excellence in government.”  Excellence does not equate to our current inequities in traffic, crime and education.

Mayor Holden’s budget also makes another promise: “We will seek quicker and better ways to improve infrastructure through greater participation from state and federal partners and greater efficiency within local government.”  This statement sounds like an acceptable plan. 

“Fiscal responsibility”  is also mentioned in the city parish budget.  Lots of buzz phrases, but where’s the beef, Mayor Holden?   

The city parish budget has steadily increased since Kip Holden was elected Mayor of EBR Parish:

  • $563 million in 2005
  • $592 million in 2006
  • $621 million in 2007
  • $679 million in 2008

In fact, Holden’s budget increases have nearly doubled from $29 million increases in 2006 and 2007 to a $53 million increase in 2008.  Now, he wants us to pay more taxes to underwrite his $989 million plan for increased spending while we are on the cusp of a recession.  High gas prices, increased grocery costs, and a sluggish economy are not conducive to tax increases to the working class who are currently struggling with stretching their dollars.

The answers are simple.  Scrub the current budget.  Decrease spending.  Be fiscally responsible.  Seek more federal and state grants.  Develop more public-private partnerships. 

Believe it or not, spending in smaller areas is a good start.  If you can’t afford a $4.00 cup of coffee, then you make coffee at home.  City government should be no different.  Prime example:  24/7 security officers are not necessary.  Recently they replayed a clip on the nightly news showing one of Holden’s security officers holding an umbrella over his head while he got out of the car.  It made me realize that the Mayor has no regard for the taxpayer’s money or city-parish budget.  We simply need to cut wasteful spending.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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