What's it do? - Establishes a budget for the special tax district that covers downtown BR's Hotel Indigo.
So what? - The dilapidated building was turned into the swanky Hotel Indigo through the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIFs, as we use them, basically create a special tax district consisting of a certain location (in this case a hotel). A certain amount of the taxes collected in this “district” over a certain period of time is diverted from government coffers back to the developers. Basically, the developers put up the money (or secure the funding through third parties) at the beginning and are partially reimbursed throughout the life of the project. Some people are not big fans of TIFs. In all likelihood, the item should be approved tonight as the TIF was passed some time ago and this is merely the administrative allocation required based on how TIFs work. With that said, some folks may take this opportunity to make their opinions on TIFs known.
What's it do? – Pay raise for the Library Director
So what? – Currently, the position of Library Director in East Baton Rouge Parish is vacant due to a spectacular, career-ending imbroglio involving former Library Director David Farrar and the Library Control Board late last year. It got bad. Then it got worse. Then it was over. Rising from the ashes of Mr. Farrar's career was a big question: How did this guy become the Director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library System? It turned out that the Library Board of Control had done little vetting of Mr. Farrar before hiring him (seriously, the guys I work with that make $9/hour get a more thorough background check than Farrar did). In response, the Library Board of Control hired a search firm to help find a new Director. One of the suggestions of the search firm was upping the Director's pay range. In round numbers, the Director currently makes between $72K and $100K a year. The proposal is to increase it to a minimum of $115K to $160K. Some on the Council have already voiced concerns with the amount. While this proposal may pass (one never knows when the Council chooses to not allow hiring a replacement for a position that was already budgeted), don't expect this one to make it through the Council as originally written. If I were a betting man, I'd guess at least a 25% decrease across the range.
What's it do? – Appropriates $11M to provide for public safety and other stuff.
So what? – Anyone with a passing association with local news media and/or Mayor Pro Tempore Mike Walker's mayoral campaign knows that crime is a serious problem in Baton Rouge. Even if you consider that most crime rates have been statistically falling, we still have way more than enough to go around, particularly of the murderous kind. Seeing a need for action (as the Metro Council's Crime Committee seems to have punted) and available funds, Mayor Holden put together an $11M package to fund and address a number of issues, chief amongst them being crime. The steadily increasing murder rate probably helped facilitate what is probably the most swiftly considered 8-figure local government spending package in recent memory. The problem here is found above where I explained what the proposal does, namely the “other stuff” part. I've been a fan of Mayor Holden for a while, but one thing he seems to routinely do is underestimate the willingness of the Council to cut off noses to spite faces. If they believe too much money is being spent outside of the sphere of public safety, there's a good chance they're going to 86 the entire thing. This should be one of the more interesting conversations of the evening.
Those are the big items. There are a host of smaller issues (like the dumpster ordinance of last week), but these should generate the best discussions sound bites. Follow the Metro Council live on Cox Channel 21 starting at 4PM. You can also stream that sucker live by hitting up this link. If you're really adventurous, the meetings are open to the public and occur on the 3rd Floor of City Hall in downtown Baton Rouge (City Hall is the taller of the two bleak, concrete edifices that can likely withstand a nuclear strike located along St. Louis Street. The other, of course, is our Downtown Library).
Next week: Getting fired up over local elections!
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Bad Guys, Good Eats! Pop-Up Dinner at Restaurant IPO
Chef and 225 contributor Jay D. Ducote and Chef Chris Wadsworth hosted the Bad Guys, Good Eats! dinner at Restaurant IPO Wednesday night. The dinner was themed around famous movie villains, pairing cocktails and ales with plates of food resembling famous baddies like The Joker, Lord Voldemort, Hannibal Lector, and many others. The highlights of the night were the three middle courses—a black bean soup laced with blood sausage to signify Lord Voldemort, a brace of coneys on black eyed peas resembling Sauron, and lamb medallions atop a fava bean puree to pay homage to the famous favorite of Hannibal Lector.
Elizabeth Arkley Hammett, a local nursing student and Fur Ball co-coordinator, and her husband Grey Hammett III, who works in commercial real estate, will take you through our summer guide. And they'll look good while doing it, too. Where noted, their clothes and accessories are available from local retailers.
These swimsuits will keep you stylish all summer long
Better Block BR
On Saturday the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives on April 13, 2013, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more "complete street" model.