Our Views: Support BREC, library taxes

To retain residents and attract new ones, south Louisiana needs top-notch cultural amenities that contribute to the region’s quality of life.

That’s why we support two tax proposals on the April 5 ballot — one to help fund the East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission and another to help fund the Livingston Parish Library. These property taxes, if approved April 5, would be renewed for another 10 years.

Voters on the BREC proposal will see one proposition that contains two tax renewals: a 4.1 mill tax for capital improvements, operations and maintenance, and a 2.1 mill tax that funds only operations and maintenance.

Together, the taxes are expected to generate almost $23 million per year for the system.

BREC is winding down the 10-year “Imagine Your Parks” plan, which brought dramatic improvements in park facilities across the parish. The recreation agency is asking residents to help develop a plan to guide the growth and maintenance of the park system for the next decade.

For property owners, the taxes, if renewed, would cost the owner of a home valued at $150,000 about $64.50 per year. That’s a small price to pay for a park system that’s been a big asset for East Baton Rouge Parish.

BREC oversees not only a network of parks, but also the Baton Rouge Zoo. The agency’s summer camps also have become a destination of choice for parents seeking quality instruction and care for their children during the vacation months.

BREC’s after-school programs also are popular, and we all know about the value of outdoor recreation in promoting good health. That cause has special urgency in south Louisiana, where high rates of obesity are a big threat to our residents.

That’s why we urge East Baton Rouge Parish residents to renew funding for BREC.

The renewal of funding for the Livingston Parish Library also is important. The 10-mill tax generates about $4.4 million a year to fund construction, improvements, maintenance and operations for the library system.

Livingston Parish has grown dramatically in the past two decades, and that growth has brought increased need for public services such as libraries. Renewing the tax on the April 5 ballot will help the library continue to offer the quality service that residents have come to expect.

In Louisiana, where high rates of illiteracy have frustrated the state’s promise, support for public libraries should be a big priority.

We urge voters to cast a yes vote for the Livingston Parish Library.