Metro Council discusses Exxon ITEP, downtown parking woes, potential changes to home rule charter

EBR Metro Council approves 10-year tax break for Exxon

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There was a big East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council meeting on February 24.

The metro council voted unanimously to approve a 10-year tax break for ExxonMobil, worth around $23 million dollars a year.

The tax break will allow the company to upgrade its oil refinery.

(Source: WAFB)

“We thought it was wise to support it, so we approved it unanimously,” said Councilman Lamont Cole, Mayor Pro Tempore.

ExxonMobil Vice President of Americas, Fuels, Gloria Moncada, in response to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council’s vote on the BRRIC ITEP application, released a statement on the decision:

“I’d like to thank the Metro Council for approving our Industrial Tax Exemption Program application for the potential Baton Rouge Refinery Integrated Competitiveness Initiative (BRRIC). We appreciate the strong communication, feedback and engagement from all local elected officials who partnered with us to provide new perspectives and ideas to ensure a stronger win for our city and state.

Through many discussions with elected and community leaders, we have identified more opportunities for small, diverse businesses and are excited to provide full-time jobs for North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative graduates.

In March, ExxonMobil will make a final investment decision to determine if BRRIC is approved. The strong local support for this suite of projects is extremely helpful to showcase that Baton Rouge welcomes future investment at our facilities, making our region a competitive option for continued business endeavors.

Parking woes in downtown Baton Rouge may soon be coming to an end.

The Metro Council approved new parking meters in that area. You should soon be able to pay to park with your cell phone or a credit card, but the price may go up just a bit.

Expect to see these new meters downtown starting in 8 to 10 weeks.

“And then we’re going to streamline the process, because instead of having a parking meter at every parking spot, we’re going to have a parking meter for a range of spots. Like you see in other cities around the country, New Orleans, New York, DC, we’ll make it a little more easier, more accessible, and the process will be better for our city,” said Councilman Cole.

And what’s the latest with the Cortana Mall situation, and the possible Amazon ties associated with the building? The item did pass the planning commission on Monday, February 22.

WAFB file photo of the Cortana Mall in Baton Rouge, La.
WAFB file photo of the Cortana Mall in Baton Rouge, La. (Source: WAFB)

“Seefried Properties were seeking to purchase those properties at Cortana Mall, and we deferred the item for the special meeting tonight. We got information that the purchase hasn’t been completed. And so, once the purchase is completed, we just want to make sure we are in compliance, in terms of the steps before you can rezone something,” said Cole.

The Cortana Mall decision should be finally made at the Metro Council’s next meeting on March 10.

The Metro Council is looking once again at some proposed changes to the city-parishes Home Rule Charter.

It could limit Mayor-Presidents to only two terms in office, and create at-large council districts, but this could be a long process.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome (Source: WAFB)

“Everything is going to be on the table, from the smallest to the largest to in terms of what’s going to happen on the council, in terms of the way we are paid. What may happen in the Mayor’s Office, term limits, things of that nature. So there’s a whole lot on there. But I think everything, if you look at what’s on the agenda tonight, It’s multiple sections of the plan of government that are up for discussion and there have been multiple recommendations,” said Cole.

Right now, council members are just discussing all of this.

A majority of the council would have to first approve the changes, for it to even make it on to the ballot here in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Council members could be looking at a potential election this August.

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