BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge mayor's office is proposing a plan to put extra revenue generated from tax dollars this year to use by funding the replacement of flooded units at the Baton Rouge Police Department.
Roughly 16 months after the August 2016 flood, it's hard to miss the damaged units lining the BRPD headquarters parking lot. Several of the units are marked up and out of commission.
"In many cases, the police have been using old vehicles until we got the new ones in," said Baton Rouge Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel.
Gissel says the city has already made efforts to keep the fleet at BRPD up and running. Some of those replacements have been on the streets since February, after the city used reserve funds to pay for the new vehicles. "Certainly police vehicles are high priority," said Gissel.
While some of the units appear to have more damage than others, some appear to be in okay shape. Gissel says in many cases, it's the inside of the cars that took the brunt of the historic rain event. "The vehicles that were flooded have to be fully retrofitted. Sometimes we change cars out and we can save the computers and different pieces, but not in this case," he added.
Since the rain event, the city has replaced 93 units with reserve funds totaling about $3 million and now with a little extra money left over from the general fund budget, generated through tax dollars and other means, Gissel says the mayor hopes to use an additional $2 million to replace 80 more.
"As we close the books, we discover if there's money left and the game now is to try and make sure that that money is used as efficiently as it can be," Gissel added.
Even with the proposed increase, Gissel says the department will still be short about 50 units, but he considers Baton Rouge lucky, saying the city's reserve funds are crucial to its success in the effort so far. "Fortunately, the city keeps a reserve fund just for emergencies like that," he said. "We're fortunate because I think there were other governmental entities that weren't quite as lucky."
While the mayor's office believes it's a great investment in those who protect and serve, using the leftover money ultimately has to be approved by the metro council. "The next council meeting, I think December 12 or 13 is when that will be voted on," said Gissel.
In addition to the $2 million investment at BRPD, the mayor's office also hopes to get the metro council to approve investments for fire department vehicles, enhancements to a fire station in Baker, improvements to the sheriff's headquarters, and on upgrades to the Raising Cane's River Center.