Residents react to Mayor Holden's proposed tax

Mayor Holden proposes new tax

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Whether in the office or at lunch, Dwight Hudson talks taxes.

"A new tax is being proposed and there's really no appetite for it here in Baton Rouge," said Hudson of TaxBusters.

On this afternoon, his focus is on a proposal from Mayor Kip Holden- $335 million for projects like a new parish prison, a mental health facility, and juvenile detention center.

The mayor laid out his plan Wednesday in his annual State of the City address.

"This proposal would save taxpayers money, solve our unsafe conditions at the existing prison, and take pressure off our emergency rooms," said Mayor Holden.

The plan would be paid for partially with a quarter-penny increase to the sales tax.

Hudson says the projects are a priority, but the tax is not needed.

"They need to be funded with current tax dollars and not additional taxes," said Hudson.

The proposal now goes to the Baton Rouge Metro Council for a vote Wednesday. Councilman John Delgado wants it on the May ballot.

"We're spending millions of dollars every year to ship our prisoners to other parishes and we're paying them money to house our prisoners. It clogs the criminal justice system up. It's just a nightmare for everybody and it's costing taxpayer dollars," said Delgado.

"The district attorney's office definitely needs new offices and we could use an update and modern jail facility for sure," said James Rothkamm, a criminal defense attorney who supports the tax plan.

When asked by 9News if the plan should make it to the May 2nd ballot, Hudson answered, "Absolutely not. In the event that a councilperson is given the opportunity to defeat a bad tax, they should take it."

The tax plan could be the last major item on Kip Holden's agenda as mayor.

The Democrat is running for lieutenant governor, a statewide race in a state that's trending Republican. Holden is also asking for a new tax at a time when taxes are unpopular.

"Kip Holden is not our cookie-cutter politician. He's an unconventional type and it's worked for him. For something involving public safety, I think the mayor can make the case that this is a necessity. And after all, the lieutenant governor is not going to be pushing taxes. The lieutenant governor is going to be promoting tourism," said Jim Engster, 9News political analyst.

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