BATON ROUGE, LA — November 5, 2019 — Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome presented the 2020 Budget to the Metropolitan Council today during the annual Special Budget Meeting. In the budget, Mayor Broome continues to focus on public safety, drainage, transportation, economic development, efficient service delivery, and quality of life for all parish residents.
“Since taking office, my administration has made significant strides towards addressing our community’s greatest needs. This 2020 Budget will continue that effort, building on the work we have already done,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “I remain steadfast in my vision to build a community of peace, prosperity, and progress for all people.”
Summary of 2020 Budget:
Public safety remains a top priority. Training academies for the Police and Fire Departments will be held in 2020 to meet recruitment needs. The state-of-the-art Real-Time Crime Center will be operational in December allowing all parish law enforcement agencies to share and analyze real-time data to reduce crime. Cost saving measures have been identified in Baton Rouge Police Department’s 2019 efficiency study to maximize available manpower and resources. Baton Rouge Fire Department is on track to maintain its class one rating for 2020.
A “Whole Community” All–Hazards Recovery Strategy has been developed to create a stronger and more resilient community in the aftermath of the Great Flood of 2016. Work continues on the City-Parish’s first comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan to model and evaluate the drainage systems and identify critical improvement projects. In addition, $655 million in drainage initiatives are underway including major projects such as the Comite River Diversion Canal project and work on our five major tributaries.
Improving transportation and mobility is essential to the continued growth of the City-Parish. The MOVEBR program, approved by voters on December 8, 2018, is the largest infrastructure, mobility enhancement, and traffic mitigation program in the Parish’s history. The first major traffic signalization project has begun and will be completed in 2020. The program is critical to ending traffic gridlock on our streets.
A major connector street for the Health District was recently completed allowing for access to more health facilities such as the new Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. Work continues on the Pecue Lane Interchange, which will add interstate access for the southeast part of the parish.
Economic development is critical to expanding our revenue base. In 2019, the Baton Rouge metropolitan area hit its highest seasonally adjusted employment numbers. With the projection of 5,700 new jobs in the region in 2020 and another 6,000 in 2021, the economic future for this area continues to look bright. According to local economists, the Baton Rouge area has never experienced an industrial expansion like the one presently underway.
The cost of government is being reduced by increasing competition in the City-Parish public bid process. There is now greater access and opportunities for all entities seeking to conduct business with the City-Parish. The City-Parish is nearing completion of a disparity study to evaluate buying and bidding practices of veteran-owned, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses. Outreach efforts to the small business community for opportunities with the City-Parish remain ongoing.
In 2019, financial transparency was increased by initiating an Open Checkbook which allows citizens to view all City-Parish expenditures. The Information Services Department will continue their on-going work in 2020 to enhance digital capabilities and transparency by initiating items such as Open Budget.
Based on revenue estimates, the General Fund budget was reduced by approximately $4.8 million. In order to achieve a balanced budget, it was necessary to reduce the funding allocated for personnel and benefits. In addition to savings generated from normal turnover, there are approximately 150 allotted positions that have become vacant through attrition that will be placed on hold. Public safety agencies were excluded from the reduction. The Administration is working on savings and revenue-generating measures as outlined in the efficiency management project. These measures continue to be implemented and so are not included in this budget.
Included in this budget is the first year of funding for the Mental Health and Substance Abuse BRIDGE Center, approved by the voters, which will provide health services to individuals in crisis who have mental illness or struggle with addiction.
Beautification initiatives like Operation Fresh Start, our parish-wide litter abatement and beautification campaign, along with our Blight Strike Team are experiencing success by removing eyesores from our environment. Through partnership and collaboration with over 40 public, private, and non-profit community organizations, Baton Rouge was recently awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhood Grant that will invigorate and rejuvenate the communities of Smiley Heights and Melrose East.
The Metropolitan Council will hold budget hearings during November, and a special meeting will be held on December 10, 2019, for the adoption of the 2020 Annual Operating and Capital Budget.
View Mayor Broome’s proposed 2020 Budget here.