The library and BREC want our tax dollars, and they’re spending an enormous amount of time, and a lot of those tax dollars, touting management skills. Earlier this year, the Metro Council was eyeing these agencies’ treasuries, suggesting they share some of their wealth for a badly needed mental health center for nonviolent offenders. These agencies, along with our mayor, stopped it cold. Whatever happened to the Metro Council’s backbone?
The library board makes an ongoing practice of such questionable decisions as:
“Don’t build out the third floor on the new Main Library building — we’ll never need that much more room — make a cheap rock garden out of it instead.”“
“Let’s open the library up for eating and drinking — kids will think it’s cool.”
“Don’t accept that physician-donated land on Burbank Avenue — the people in the south Baton Rouge area don’t need a branch, even a free one.”
“In fact, forget about building any branch in that part of the city — we’ve dragged this out since 2002, then Rouzan’s owner tricked us for years, then we spent thousands on a failed site-selection gamble; the public will certainly swallow our current delay.”
“With the money saved, let’s help our downtown benefactors by tearing down and rebuilding the downtown branch for $19 million — never mind that it’s next to the worst performing branch in the system, and that the horrible downtown parking will make it never work.”
What’s the money look like now? At the beginning of this year, the library had a surplus of $57.5 million. This year, the library will bring in an additional $40 million. And next year, it’s projected to rake in $44 million.
Many citizens are not convinced that the taxes are allocated properly. For example, the library has asked for and gotten 11.1 mils for two decades running (1985-2005 and 2005-2015) — check the back of your property tax statement for comparison of the high library millages with all other millages in the parish.
Message: Vote the tax down. Signal the library to align its monetary demands with real needs, then come back with a realistic budget for the public’s consideration.