Update:  The study Mayor Holden said would not take place, did and has been released! 

The most interesting aspect of the study includes the list of items that your tax dollars via the City of Baton Rouge plan to fund.  That list includes:

  • Redesign of the Central Green
    • Programming Study
    • Schematic Design
    • Modifications to River Road at the LASM site (along with federal appopriations)
    • Riverfront Plaza
  • Green Infrasctruture
    • Commission Mapping to Assess and Diagram Existing Conditions (through increase in budget to DDD)
    • Design a comprehensive Urban Forest
    • Pursue a phased planting of the Urban Forest
    • Ensure durability and longevity of the Urban Forest
  • Victory Park Neighborhood
    • Acquire Post Office site for future redevelopment and/or open space
    • Establish guidelines for future development of Post Office site
  • Redevelopment of Victory Park
    • Connections to the Mississippi River
    • Extend the levee promenade to DeSoto Park (along with Corp of Engineers)
    • Spanish Town Corridor Pedestrian Connection (along with state funding)
    • River Road Narrowing (along with state funding)
    • River Road Crossings at Florida and North (along with state funding)
    • Extend Capitol Park to DeSoto Park and the River (along with state funding)
  • Connections to the Neighborhood
    • Two way traffic on St. Ferdinand and St. Louis (along with state funding)
    • Two way traffic on Laurel and Lafayette (along with state funding)
  • Housing and Mixed-Use Incentives
    • Tax abatements
    • Retail and Entertainment Incentives
  • Waiver of construction license and permit fees
    • Facade improvement and building rehabilitation (along with potential grants)
    • A cleaner, safer, better maintained and attractive Downtown
  • Skilled workforce recruitment and funding
    • Coordinated Parking Management
  • Establish downtown parking function with DPW or DDD
    • Increase enforcement capacity
    • Shared use agreements
    • Shared state parking garages (along with 3rd parties and state funding)
  • Unified signage for parking
    • New zoning, design standards, and code enforcement in Downtown
  • Historic District Protection
    • New design guidelines (along with DDD)
    • LEED standards for new developments
    • Views to the Mississippi River
  • River Road developments
    • Retail uses on Lafayette Street
    • Code enforcement
  • Marketing and Branding Downtown
    • Branding (along with DDD)

Page 85 of the report indicates the budget for the Downtown Development District would need to be doubled for the portions they would be responsible for exclusively.  Their budget would be increased from $576,000 to $1,152,000.  This would be done through an increase in taxes as follows: 

  • DDD property millage from 10 to 12.5 mills
  • DDD tax increase from 2% to 2.25%

Additionally, the study indicates that EBRP’s city spending would need to increase significantly, but no specific figures are given or assigned.  Though there are recommendations for private funding and grants, no amount is indicated as to the exact amount of expenditures required.

In other words, NO specific budget is attached to the report.  Nor are there any assigned amounts for each of the expenditures listed above that the City of BR/Parish of EBR would underwite.

This is an overview, and you can read the entire report in this 22 MB file if you are willing to take time for it to download. 

The bottom line is that we have another broken promise by undertaking a study which Mayor Holden takes full credit for at the beginning of the report on page two as he announces his “Phase 2” plan for Downtown Baton Rouge.

Given the fact that the report indicates 225,000 as our city limit population with only 2,000 residents in the Downtown area, this seems to be another plan to spend extensive taxpayer funds for less than 1% of the city’s residents (page 67).  It would be fair, however, to mention that there are 20,705 workers in Downtown Baton Rouge, of which 10,179 are city-parish or state workers. 

So, here we are.  Another study, and most likely millions of tax dollars to improve Downtown only! 

##

Just one year ago, Mayor-President Kip Holden made a promise:

“There will not be another study this government will fund,” Holden said.  (Baton Rouge Business Report Daily Report, January 13, 2009.

Yesterday, this same publication reported:

— The DDD is undertaking a strategic planning study to see if the organization’s processes or structures could be improved. A report is expected in the next three to four months. (Baton Rouge Business Report Daily Report, January 12, 2010.

The facts continue to show that Holden is a tax and spend liberal, even in light of a decrease in city-parish tax collections for 2009. 

The DDD (Downtown Development District) is a quasi-parish government agency funded by your tax dollars.  The upcoming agenda for the East Baton Rouge Metro Council has an item to increase the salary of the executive director, Davis Rhorer.  Expenditures for the DDD require a stamp of approval from the Mayor or Metro Council. 

Mayor Holden’s Chief Administrative Officer, Mike Futrell, told The Advocate, “This fits in precisely with Mayor Holden’s vision…”

BREC Superintendent, Bill Palmer, said no special funds are available. 

As they say — follow the money!  Need I say more?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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