Proposal to take money from library, mosquito control to fix drainage fails at Metro Council

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A big plan in front of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council to pay for drainage solutions, using money earmarked for the East Baton Rouge Parish Library system and Baton Rouge Mosquito Control, did not go far Wednesday night after some heated debate.

“The original motion has failed for lack of support of 7,” said Councilman Lamont Cole, Mayor Pro Tem.

A majority of Metro Council members voting no, on moving roughly $5 million from the Parish Library System, to the parish’s drainage department.

“I really thought it was unfair that the library and mosquito abatement were chosen for political reasons to pull funds from,” said Jason Jacob, President of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control.

Some council members wanted to take some money from the Mosquito Control Department as well, but that was not even voted on.

Councilman Dwight Hudson was one of the council members pushing for all these funds to be used on drainage solutions.

“I don’t want to characterize it as a slap in the face, but I see it as a failure for us to lead. We know that this is a priority, we know that $8 million annually is a woefully under funded drainage department,” said Dwight Hudson, Metro Councilman for district 9.

Some of the council members did not like this plan, because the voters approved the funding for libraries (2015) and mosquito control years ago. And going against voters, would set a bad precedent moving forward.

“Flooding is an issue, but it’s not the most important issue. But you want to know why it’s important, because certain people being impacted. It is man who overbuilt in one part and neglected another, and now you want to take all the people money, all of our money, to fix an issue that you created,” said Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks, district 2.

But other council members wanted the voters to decide.

“This is a way to put it back before the people, without raising taxes,” said Aaron Moak, Metro Councilman for district 4.

“I think this warrants enough merit to at least put it before the people to see,” said Brandon Noel, Metro Councilman for District 1.

The folks with the public library say this move by the council, ensures none of their employees will lose a job, and they can continue with all the programs they provide.

“I believe this sort of discussion needs to be taken place at the end of our millage, which is 2024 and into 2025. So I’m happy for the library system,” said Jacob.

Councilman Hudson says now, it’s time to go back to the drawing board to find other ways to come up with more money for drainage.

Just last month, the Metro Council approved around $20 million for drainage projects, from funds from the American Rescue Plan.

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