A contract for public outreach for Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's proposed Better Transportation and Roads tax this week had some council members dropping hints this week on whether they are likely to support putting the measure on the ballot.
Some council members were skeptical about a contract Broome's administration proposed with CSRS to do public outreach at a cost of up to $49,100.
Director of Transportation and Drainage Fred Raiford tried to quell their concerns, saying that just because the contract allows a payment up to $49,100, does not mean that CSRS will collect the maximum amount.
And city-parish Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Rowdy Gaudet said the contract covered more than CSRS simply attending public meetings and answering questions. CSRS is tweaking the project list and designs based on what they are hearing at the meetings, a skill set that the city-parish needs from them, he and Raiford said.
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"I hope that this council will put this tax on the ballot," said Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg. "But assuming they don't, what happens with this contract?"
Raiford said it was better to have the contract lined up and not need it than to not have one ready. The Metro Council is expected to vote in September on whether to place the tax on November ballots.
"My problem with it is just that I don't know it gets passed through September," said Trae Welch. "I'm just worried we'll spend the next few weeks trying to burn through $49,000."
Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks also critiqued the rollout of the BTR tax. The public outreach for it should have included better outreach ahead of time to council members, she said.
"I can't even support the list," she said. "One of the first things that should have been done is to come talk to each council member and say, 'What are your priorities?' But that didn't happen and the next thing we knew, we were getting a list."
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After Raiford and Gaudet spent many more minutes answering questions, council members eventually approved the contract.