C.A.T.S. tax then and now

C.A.T.S. tax then and now
Photo provided by staff.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 8:00pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 8:04pm

Property tax bills go out at the end of next month for residents of East Baton Rouge, and for property owners in the cities of Baton Rouge and Baker their bill will include the C.A.T.S. tax.

"As of September 30 we've received 14.3 million dollars in tax revenue," Bob Mirabito, Capital Area Transit System CEO, explained.

Mirabito said since voters passed the C.A.T.S. tax last year the bus system has tried to turn things around.

"Being able to get this revenue get this subsidy it not only keeps the system going, but now it allows us to do things we've never done before," Mirabito said.

Mirabito explained part of the money they put away for board reserve. Another part went to pay back money the bus system borrowed. The rest went to operating costs.and making the ride better for customers.

"At first it was slow like, but they're getting better at it," Niko Broadwater, bus rider, said.

C.A.T.S. officials have a proposed plan to add more routes, bus shelters, and cut down travel times for customers in 2014.

"We had lots of grants, but we never had the 20 percent match money, so we couldn't make investments in our fleet. That's why we're getting 12 new busses in January, because of the tax money," Mirabito said.

Some Baton Rouge leaders are skeptical about the plan. Metro Council member John Delgado said C.A.T.S. officials have made promises before that they haven't kept.

"They always promise that tomorrow it will be better these same promises were made that these changes were going into effect in 2013," Delgado said. "I would hope that we could hold their feet to the fire and make them delivered as promised. "

C.A.T.S. Customers say over the past few months they've began to see changes. Now they're hoping the money gained from the tax will mean more positive changes for the bus system.

"Regardless of if if you ride the bus or not do that to help the next person. Everybody is not able to have a vehicle and you know they need the bus," Sharon Lemieux, C.A.T.S. rider, said.

EBR Assessor Brian Wilson says the 10.6 mil C.A.T.S. tax is expected to generate around $16 million this time around.

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