Advocate Editorial, November 17
On Dec. 8, voters will face important propositions in East Baton Rouge and Lafayette parishes, along with a runoff election for secretary of state and some local offices.
Early voting is the week of Nov. 24 through Dec. 1, except for Sunday. We urge voters to cast an informed ballot in these critical elections.
Baton Rouge roads and bridges tax: Yes
A far-reaching tax proposal would borrow more than $900 million for long-delayed projects throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. The bond issue would be paid for by a new half-cent sales tax, not our preferred method, over 30 years.
It's a big package because the parish is in catch-up mode on work that voters should have authorized a long time ago. Some of the work is vital to traffic flow on state highways, but the slow pace of construction funding at that level means that relief isn't coming anytime soon from the State Capitol. Airline Highway is a particularly tough issue, and is the biggest project on the list.
Matching of federal and state funds for specific projects wherever possible is also pledged by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's administration.
The roads, bridges, sidewalks and long-sought synchronization of traffic signals are backed by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, in recognition of the role that congestion plays in raising the costs of doing business in Baton Rouge.
Baton Rouge mental health: Yes
A new 1.5 mill tax would fund a diversion center to keep the mentally ill out of Parish Prison and relieve one of the day-to-day burdens of police and sheriff's deputies. Far too many folks off their meds are now clogging emergency rooms and the jails.
Research funded by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation has demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of similar facilities across the nation. This plan is backed by law enforcement and the medical community.
Lafayette council split: Yes
A complex charter amendment deserves study from voters, but we believe it on balance is a reasonable process of governance for Lafayette. The joint City-Parish Council would be replaced by city and parish councils. Each would operate from the same budget and so would not compromise the efficiencies of earlier consolidation of parish agencies. The change could allow leaders to better address the differing priorities of the city and the unincorporated areas of the parish. It was placed on the ballot in a 7-2 vote of the City-Parish Council.A net increase of one council member doesn't add much bureaucracy, and the business leadership of One Acadiana backs the change.