BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In less than a week many of you will get to decide whether you’re willing to pay more in sales tax to fund better roads in East Baton Rouge Parish.
One local mayor says the city-parish can’t afford to say no to the tax.
“We're on pace to build about 220 homes this year, which is the best since Katrina. There's no slowing down in this,” says Mayor of Zachary, David Amrhein.
The City of Zachary is on the move. More cars than ever before are passing over these decades’ old roads.
“My easiest analogy is, you continue to kick a can to the end of the road, sooner or later it's got to stop,” says Mayor Amrhein.
Coming up on the December 8th ballot is a billion-dollar sales tax that could potentially improve safety and widen roadways.
Since those issues reach far beyond Zachary’s city limits into Baker and even Baton Rouge, the Move EBR initiative has those cities asking you to fund a fix.
“We believe that at this time it's paramount. It has to pass,” Mayor Amrhein says. “It's almost a billion dollars today, what's it going to be 10 years from today.”
Amrhein adds, he doesn’t necessarily like taxes, but “Sooner or later you have to pay to move this parish forward,” he says.
It's a proposal to fund almost 70 projects across East Baton Rouge Parish. Mayor Amrhein says it’s time to go to work and for the City of Zachary; if the tax passes, improvements begin on Machoust Road.
“It's a substandard road by far, there's no way you can build a road like that today,” Mayor Amrhein says. “Two cars can hardly pass on it, to big trucks can't.”
The safety improvement on Machoust Rd. are estimated to cost $10 million dollars.
The next set of streets on the list of improvements for Zachary include Port-Hudson Pride and Rollins Road. Those two road improvements are expected to cost 18 million dollars each.
The mayor says growth across the city over the last several years has prompted the necessary improvements, “Six subdivisions and five schools are fed of Rollins road. There are 1,200 cars a day on average go down Rollins. If you do to do anything, you got to have a vision or where you want to be, and this is the time for people to step up,” the mayor says.
This 30-year sales tax, the mayor of Zachary says, is a small price to pay for progress.
Amhrein says he supports this sales tax, and he hopes citizens are ready to move forward as well, “You can continue to sit in traffic, you can continue to complain about it but if you don't pay for it, nothing's going to change. It's proven,” he says. “I'm a firm believer, you get what you pay for.”
The city of Baker, Mayor Darnell Waites says if voters approve the tax, Groom Road and McHue Road would be first on the list for infrastructure improvements. He says improving those roadways could reduce flooding.
Mayor Waites says he wants citizens to look toward effective economic development in the parish.
Critics of the plan say they just need more specifics on when certain projects will be funded if the measure is approved.
Voters will head to the polls to decide on Dec. 8th.