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As Ray Charles sang, “Here we go again…one more time”.  Mayor Kip Holden has announced that he plans to present his tax increase in the form of a bond proposal…one more time on a fall ballot to the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish.

Holden’s approach will be to wrap higher taxes up with a nice red bow called “an economic stimulus plan”.  The operative word is downtown

The only good news is that Holden said, “there will not be another study this government will fund”.  Great!

While we are in an economic recession, and president-elect Obama Barack plans to take the helms of the oval office on Tuesday, Holden has realized that there will be economic stimulus money up for grabs.  The Mayor has requested $500 million for EBR Parish.  These are the type of things that make me shake my head and say “interesting”.

The reason this is ‘interesting’ is that just a couple months ago Holden was willing to make taxpayers pay for $100 million in tax increases through former shadow mayor Walter Monsour’s bond issue.  Now that the plan was turned down by voters, suddenly there are other funds to be found.

This is precisely what should have been done in the beginning.  Before a bond issue for $100 million in tax increases was proposed, other options should have been researched. 

The most important question is:  How much more money is there in potential cuts to the city parish budget? 

Trimming the fat is what every family in our parish is having to do with the current recession.  Families are cooking at home more.  Packing a lunch and working at your desk is now an option more people are considering.  Lower gas prices have citizens smiling.  Water cooler talk is about clipping coupons, carefully reviewing investments and where the latest sales are in the retail world.

At what point will city-parish government realize that they must also cut the fat?  You do not spend more money in a recession, you save, cut back and search for more affordable options.

Holden’s office told Baton Rouge Business Report that the new proposed tax plan will include lower project costs.  Really?  Where these options available the first go round?

I don’t think we are asking much when we expect muncipalities to give us their best foot forward.  Not the second time around, but the first time around.  Not because voters refused to pay higher taxes, but because it was the right thing to do.  The first time.

When I read these type of articles, it confirms that my first assessment was accurate.  In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink!, he talks about your initial instinct when you know that you know that you know something is or is not right.  That is the instinct that led voters to turn down Holden’s mandate to pay more taxes last fall.  It’s just good common sense!

Besides, Holden’s ‘new’ plan, according to the Business Report, is about downtown.  After speaking at the Downtown Development District board meeting, even The Advocate reported that Holden has bigger plans for downtown.  Though you cannot be all things to all people, what about the rest of the parish? 

Don’t the citizens of our parish deserve strong bridges instead of emails that claim we have 38 unsafe bridges that will only be improved if we vote for a tax increase?  Holding taxpayers hostage with threats of this type will not win a tax election.

With all due respect, grants for new uniforms, logos and branding for the Sheriff’s office could have better served the public improving our infrastructure.  Do we care what they wear as long as they are protecting and serving?  Then again, that story is for another day since rumors have it that it was tied to a political promise. 

The bottom line is that we need the incoming Chief Administrative Officer, Mike Futrell, to delve deep into our city budget and make the necessary cuts.  Futrell needs to cut the contracts of Holden’s private security detail, public relations personnel, etc. and seek grant funding to address our infrastructure needs.   We are spending untold dollars that are buried in the budget only for true researchers to dig up.  

We want our city-parish government officials to spend our tax dollars wisely, to budget them effectively, and to realize that while we are making these changes to our own pocketbooks, they need to do the same.

Is that too much to ask of our public servants?  I think not.  Treat our tax dollars as if they were your own money.  Pretty simple approach.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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