Metro Council members share mixed feelings about the Mayor’s proposed budget plan

The East Baton Rouge Metro Council will get a chance to hear from several city departments about the mayor’s proposed $1.08 billion budget for 2023.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 10:51 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Metro Council will get a chance to hear from several city departments about the mayor’s proposed $1.08 billion budget for 2023.

The mayor’s office, the Office of Community Development, the Department of Building & Grounds, Juvenile Services, and Prison Medical Services are scheduled to make presentations in front of the council at a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 29.

“Some of the questions we typically ask are, where are those funds going? How are those funds being used? How are they benefiting? How are they moving Baton Rouge’s strategic plan and strategic initiatives forward,” Councilwoman Laurie Adams said.

Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome’s proposal is roughly 5% bigger than the year before and includes a 13% pay raise for law enforcement, public safety investments, and more money for drainage improvements.

After last month’s stormwater fee debacle, Councilwoman Laurie Adams says drainage is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

“Every dollar that we can invest in drainage maintenance makes a difference,” Adams said.

However, not everyone is optimistic about the mayor’s plan.

Councilwoman Chauna Banks sent this statement to WAFB expressing a lack of confidence about Broome’s proposal:

“I feel extremely hopeless regarding any budget that the Mayor presents for 2023.

Upon Mayor Broome’s 2016 biggest campaign points were leading the city-parish through flood recovery and improving north Baton Rouge.  Thanks to significant funds specifically designated for flood recovery, our city-parish is in a great place.

However, north Baton Rouge has continued to receive less than 20% of all budgeted and spent funds and continue to lag as a top priority.  Even when the administration includes line items that will assist with economic development, housing, infrastructure, etc., the plan is always delayed or thwarted.

This 2nd term has proved to be extremely unstable with point people in key positions, so carry-through is an ongoing challenge and in politics, you have to build relationships to get on the same page.   Even when the council approves the yearly budget or supplemental changes or additions when post-opposition arises or someone comes up with a better spending plan, it’s like the mayor never authorized and council never approved.

The funding remains dormant, projects are stalled, and the council members are left to try to work it out alone and with no support or accountability.

Once again, I feel this mayor administration is going to prioritize storm water issues in “new” south Baton Rouge over the multiple problems we have in “old” north Baton Rouge for 30 years.”

Banks said she wants to make sure this money is spent the best way possible, which is the same goal as Adams and the rest of the Metro Council.

“I want to make sure that every dollar is being invested wisely,” Adams said.

The council will vote on the proposed budget on Dec. 13.

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