True or False

There's some great community conversation going on around this transit issue, but facts can sometimes dissolve into fiction.  Read the truth behind some frequent statements below.

  • "Residential property taxes increases up to 79%"
    According to the Taxbusters fact sheet, this increase only applies to homes valued at $50,000 to $75,000 (homes valued above this will experience a 13%-29% increase). It is more important to consider the numbers behind this 79% figure.  For the those with homes of $50,000, they currently pay $67 a year in property tax; this tax will add another $53 a year, making their property taxes a total of $120 annually.  For a $75,000 home, current property taxes are $101 a year and will be $80 more if this CATS tax passes--$180 total. 

    Keep in mind that a fuel efficient mid-sized sedan costs, on average, $60 to tank up.  If people living in a $50,000-$75,000 homes have a car, then investing in a quality transit system for one year will cost less or almost as much as one tank of gas.  The system proposed will give these homeowners an efficient, cost effective alternative to get to work, doctors' appointments, grocery stores, etc.  It makes greater fiscal sense for these homeowners to invest in transit regardless of a 79% property tax increase. 

  • "This tax will steal your homestead exemption and the tax freeze for those 65-years and older"
    The homestead exemption doesn't ever apply to municipal tax elections, and this is a municipal election.  These tax breaks apply in state and parish-wide elections, not for those in city-limits.  This tax is not "stealing" anything--you can't steal something that simply doesn't apply.

    The tax freeze for seniors refers to a freeze on assessed values for homeowners 65 years and older. That freeze will apply for the proposed transit tax, just as it applies for all property taxes, whether they are municipal or parish-wide. The transit tax will have no effect whatsoever on the freeze on assessments for seniors.
  • "It will more than double CATS budget"
    Yes, the very point of the tax is to increase CATS' budget.  While $12 million seems like a large number, it is simply insufficient to run a transit system for a city the size of Baton Rouge.  When the Blue Ribbon Commission on transit studied transit systems in other Southern metros, they found that the average per capita funding on transit was $133--this figure includes taxes, grants, and federal and state funding.  Baton Rouge spends $27 per capita.  New Orleans spends $215 per captia--even Memphis spends $59 per capita.  Even after this tax passes, Baton Rouge will only be spending $67 per capita, still almost half of the southern metro average of per capita spending on transit. 

  • "Baton Rouge already rejected a 3.5 mil tax in 2010"
    This is a completely different measure.  The proposal in 2010 was to patch or band aid the system, the proposal before voters on April 21st is for complete reform. This proposal has also been over a year in the making, with extraordinary input and planning from business and faith-based leaders on the Blue Ribbon Commission, leaders on the Baton Rouge Transit Coalition and community voices through Together Baton Rouge.
  • "It is up to our mayor and metro council to figure the CATS problem out."
    Our mayor and metro council have scrutinized the budget and general fund and they simply do not have the money to continue band-aiding this system.  Baton Rouge is the largest metro area in the country to not have a dedicated funding source for transit--all other functioning metro transit systems are supported by tax payer dollars. We, as a Baton Rouge community, have the choice to decide whether or not we want to invest in transit on April 21st.  This is the way democracies should work; residents decide what services they want and how much they are will to sacrifice for those services.

  • "This is a huge, enormous tax."
    It is actually 10.6 mills, which is less than the EBR parish libraries (11.1 mills), BREC (14.46 mills), fire districts (18.65 mills), and all of our school districts (ranging from 43.2 mills in EBR to 79.2 mills in Zachary).