City-parish leaders tell us they need a tax increase — this time, it’s for bridges.

In fact, they already have more money than they need. We know this because they can afford to spend more than $1 million a year on the downtown white elephant called the “River Center.”

A socialized auditorium was a longtime dream of promoters as far back as the regime of Mayor-President Jack Christian. A tax for BREC was to be voted on, and he told the auditorium promoters, “If that tax fails, you can forget about the auditorium.”

The tax failed, but promoters kept trying with a new mayor-president, W.W. “Woody” Dumas. This time, the property tax was dedicated to an auditorium. Again, voters had to troop to the polls to keep from wasting their money. Again, voters said, “NO.”

But promoters figured a third time would be the charm, and they got Dumas, once more, to back a property tax for an auditorium. And voters said “NO” for a third time.

Promoters were nothing if not persistent. Using the excuse that the proposed 1970 budget would be unbalanced, Dumas persuaded the City Council on Dec. 10, 1969, to enact a 1 percent sales tax without a vote of the people.

With the proceeds of that tax, what was named the “Centroplex” was built, but a better name would have been “Cemetery” because it was built over the dead bodies of the voters. The name later was changed to “River Center.” We’re still paying the tax.

The River Center’s annual subsidy paid by taxpayers has averaged more than $1 million annually for several years; this year, it’s $1.4 million.

It’s time to stop this idiocy. Let’s put the River Center on the auction block and use the proceeds of the sale for bridge repairs. Just eliminating the subsidy will provide $1 million a year for bridges.

Jim Ware

retired businessman

Baton Rouge