July 10, 2012
The recent decision by the Ascension Parish Council to place a proposed half-cent sales tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is an acknowledgment that Ascension’s rapid growth over the past decade has also brought some costs.
The half-cent tax would be a critical part of a parish plan, which will cost $135 million in its first phase, that’s aimed primarily at improving intersections across the parish to improve traffic flow.
We look forward to studying the tax proposal in more detail. Until we know more, we won’t take a position on whether this specific tax is the best solution to Ascension Parish’s traffic challenges. There’s no question, though, that those traffic challenges are significant.
The proposed tax would last 25 years and raise the sales tax rate in unincorporated Ascension Parish from 8.5 percent to 9 percent.
Many residents of Ascension Parish are former residents of Baton Rouge who moved to Ascension because of its quieter pace and quality public schools. Their presence has meant a parish that’s much busier that it used to be, but we’re hopeful that Ascension Parish residents can manage their growth and still retain the parish’s appeal.
East Baton Rouge Parish is a cautionary example of what can happen when infrastructure needs are ignored. East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden has made progress in improving streets and roads in the parish, but his administration is playing a hard game of catch-up after voters for many years refused to approve additional infrastructure spending.
Ascension Parish residents also need to embrace smart-growth policies that manage development. Taken alone, adding more capacity to the traffic grid eventually falls prey to the law of diminishing returns.
We are eager to give the proposed tax on Ascension Parish’s Nov. 6 ballot a closer look. We hope Ascension Parish residents do the same.