You decide: Item on Nov. 21 ballot would give Central 'fair share' of East Baton Rouge parish property tax revenue _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Central Mayor J.R. Shelton, at the welcome sign to the City's incorporated area.

East Baton Rouge Parish voters will have an opportunity this month to redirect property taxes collected in the parish, giving Central what officials are calling its “fair share.”

The measure on the Nov. 21 ballot has required technical language about changing the East Baton Rouge Parish Plan of Government. But what it addresses is the distribution of property taxes the parish has collected for years from the industrial areas of the parish making up the petrochemical plants such as ExxonMobil and Georgia Pacific.

The Plan of Government has mandated that those taxes be split, based on population, among Baton Rouge, Baker and Zachary, which for decades were the only municipalities in the parish.

In 2005, Central incorporated and became the fourth municipality. However, the Plan of Government was never updated to include Central.

If voters approve the change, Central will receive 9.4 percent of the funds, which would amount to about $142,449, based on the 2014 property tax rolls.

In 2014, the industrial areas generated $1,512,362 from the 3.44-mill property tax.

Baton Rouge received almost 89 percent, which amounted to roughly $1.3 million. Baker received 5.4 percent at $81,341, and Zachary received 5.8 percent at $87,575.

The addition of Central shrinks the other three cities’ allocations. Baton Rouge would receive $126,539 less, based on the most recent property tax rolls. Baker and Zachary would both receive about $8,000 less.

Central Mayor Jr. Shelton stressed to voters that the change is not a tax increase.

“I want people to understand whether you’re in Baker, Baton Rouge, Zachary or Central, this is not an increase in taxes,” he said. “This is just us getting our fair share like other cities in the parish.”

Shelton said $142,000 would go a long way in the tight Central budget.

“Even though we have a healthy surplus, we’re very frugal with our money,” he said. “We could put them to good use and turn them back into services for the citizens.”

Early voting ends Saturday .

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter, @rebekahallen. For more coverage of city-parish government, follow City Hall Buzz blog at buzz.