BREC commissioners agreed Wednesday to ask voters on April 5 to renew 6.2 mills in property taxes used to pay for capital improvements and general operating expenses.
Commissioners voted 7-0 without discussion in favor of having the tax renewal on the April ballot. Board members Laurie Marien and Kenneth Riche were absent.
Voters will have one proposition that contains two tax renewals.
One is a 4.1 mill tax, split between capital improvements and operations and maintenance.
The other, a 2.1 mill tax, goes strictly to operations and maintenance.
The two combined are expected to generate almost $22.9 million in revenue for the East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission.
When these two taxes came up for renewal in April 2004, the measure passed with 74 percent of voters saying “Yes.”
At the time, the two millages raised about $13.5 million a year.
Seven months later, on the same day as the presidential election, voters narrowly approved a new 3.2 mill tax that’s funding a 20-year, $70.5 million “Imagine Your Parks” program to improve or create community and neighborhood parks and special facilities.
That tax, which passed by just 1,837 votes, is not up for renewal until 2024.
The construction connected with that tax is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.
BREC officials are planning, upon renewal of the 6.2 mills, to develop a new master plan for the next 10 years.
This year, the parks and recreation agency has solicited public input through meetings, surveys and other methods.
One area of uncertainty is the future of City-Brooks Park.
The only person to speak Wednesday was Dana Brown, representing the group Friends of City Park.
She urged BREC to formally commit to preserving the golf course there. Such a move would also mean rejecting a contrary push from other residents in the area to remove the golf course and open up those grounds for other uses.
BREC commissioners also agreed Wednesday to start the process of borrowing $4 million to cover a temporary cash crunch until property tax collections start pouring in during early 2014.
The move allows the agency to start shopping for the best interest rates in the short term, which would be paid in full by the end of February.
On Nov. 20, the commission plans to approve the debt instrument known as a revenue anticipation note.