As the Baton Rouge Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) Committee considers new rules for local application of industrial tax exemptions, they heard starkly different stories by citizens and corporate executives. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce proposed dramatically looser rules on tax breaks, excusing some business from paying any taxes for five years, depending on the size of the corporation. Small business owners and citizen leaders of Together Baton Rouge called on the committee to ensure that tax incentives require job creation and serve in its designed capacity to incentivize (future) business investment, rather than pay for past expenditures.
The local nature of this debate is the result of Together Baton Rouge's efforts to de-centralize tax break decisions so that local entities sacrificing the tax revenue can weigh in on industrial tax break decisions.Read more
Pointing out that nearly 100,000 Baton Rouge residents live in food deserts, and that during fall elections mayoral and city council candidates publicly committed to investing $1.5 Million to attract grocery stores in the region, leaders of Together Baton Rouge are calling foul on the council's failure to invest any money in the effort for four straight years.Read more
One year after wresting control of industrial tax breaks away from a statewide board and into the hands of the local government entities affected by them, Together Baton Rouge released a report detailing how 2017 tax breaks impacted one community: East Baton Rouge. According to the report, the tax exemption cost local schools, sheriff, government, parks, libraries, fire and health departments $139 Million, just in 2017.Read more
Together Baton Rouge Grills Candidates on Law Enforcement, Tax Exemptions, Flood Relief & 'Food Deserts'
A 'crazy' idea from 70-year-old Betsy Smith amidst the lack of an automated federal response sparked the effort: "Rather than just donate money....donate $120 to pay an unemployed person $15 an hour for an 8-hour day's work helping with the cleanup effort."Read more
Towards that end, the city manager's proposed budget calls for hiring 15 additional code enforcement officers to handle the exapnded responsibilities.Read more
On the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Together Baton Rouge's community gathering was described as giving "a sense of hope and openness" as leaders listened to each other (regardless of race and age) in a mutually professed desire to move the city forward.Read more
Over 300 leaders of Together Baton Rouge called for both law enforcement and economic reforms at a luncheon meeting held at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. The call to action occurred after breakout sessions in which leaders substantively listened to each other. Said Rev. Lee Wesley, "It is not our goal to return to where we were before Alton Sterling was shot. It is not our goal to get back to business as usual. It is our goal to move forward."Read more