East Baton Rouge Parish voters will have an opportunity to start casting ballots on two parishwide tax proposals and a slate of runoff elections when early voting kicks off Saturday.
Taking center stage are Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's ambitious MovEBR half-cent sales tax proposal to fund infrastructure and roadway projects throughout the parish. Also before the voters is a new 1.5-mill property tax to support a center to keep mentally-ill patients out of emergency rooms and local jails.
Early voting is scheduled 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily beginning Saturday and continues until Dec. 1, except on Sunday. Early voting locations can be found at https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/EarlyVoting.
"We're not sure what kind of turnout we'll have for the December election, but we think it will be somewhat less than November," said Steve Raborn, the registrar of voters for the parish.
In early voting for the Nov. 6 election, approximately 30,400 of the 286,255 people registered to vote in East Baton Rouge participated, according to data from the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office.
Election day is Dec. 8.
Broome's 30-year, half-cent road tax is being pegged as the solution to unclogging traffic congestion across the parish through upgrades and construction work that would include improvements to Airline Highway, widening roads around Central and Baker, synchronizing traffic signals, adding sidewalks and ditches on various roadways and building a new Interstate 10 exchange with a widened Pecue Lane.
The proposed tax, listed on the ballot as the parishwide Capital Improvements District, is expected to raise over 30 years $912 million, which would be used to repay a 30-year bond for the projects.
The sales tax would not get applied to sales of groceries, prescription medicines or public utilities.
The 10-year, 1.5-mill property tax for a new mental health treatment center has been endorsed by local law enforcement and the medical community who see it as a solution to treating the mentally ill who now crowd hospitals and prisons.
The property tax would generate approximately $6 million annually until 2028. The 30-bed crisis center would provide emergency, short-term psychiatric care, including detoxification.
Providing mental health services is vitally important, but it is up to local leaders to figure out plans for their own communities, federal of…
Research funded by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation highlights the cost-effectiveness of similar facilities across the nation.
Appearing on the Dec. 8 ballot as well is the runoff for secretary of state between Republican Kyle Ardoin and Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup. Other runoff races include Baton Rouge city constable, the District 2 seat on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board and the District 7 spot on the Zachary School Board.
Voters in Central will be asked to pick a councilman-at-large and District 5 representative for the City Council.