CATS needs residents to vote yes to renew millage tax to keep the wheels turning


BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – Every ten years East Baton Rouge residents vote whether or not to renew tax funding for the Capital Area Transit System, CATS bus system. That renewal will be on the November ballot this year.

Voters have to chance to continue funding city buses for the next ten years or they can vote to end it. CATS Development Director Theo Richards said this money is curtailed to keep the wheels rolling.

“It’s vital and essential,” Richards said. “A majority of our operating budget comes from, operational budget comes from this millage.”Theo Richards, Business Development Director

“Baton Rouge residents should vote yes on the CATS proposition, transportation is a key factor in economic growth,” says Power Coalition for Equity and Justice. “The millage will be used to improve the availability and quality of public transportation in Baton Rouge, a service used by tens of thousands of people. 91% of users have no other transportation options to get to work, school, medical appointments, or other obligations.”

The money comes from millage property taxes and rates are based on a resident’s taxable property value and are paid annually. In the last three years, CATS has received between $18 to $20 million a year from these taxes… but is it enough?

“We work with the dollars that we have,” Richards said. “This ensures that we are able to keep the buses on the road and not have to shut down service if for some reason the tax was not renewed, we would have to dramatically reduce services to a point that we would question if it would even be worth having a service at that time.”

“Fully funding CATS ensures that people have access to transportation to get them where they need to go,” says Power Coalition Founder and CEO Ashley Shelton. “Particularly for low-income families, CATS is a way to get to and from work and ensure that community members are connected to the economy and access to food and other key necessities.

CATS has faced scrutiny over the years for numerous canceled or delayed trips, buses breaking down, and allegations of leadership issues with CEO Bill Deville. The Baton Rouge Organizer for the Power Coalition, Kaitlyn Joshua asks the voters to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

“I think that we can address leadership issues but this is key infrastructure for economic growth, and addressing transit inequities. Voting yes to the CATS renewal is a step in the right direction.  It’s important that we convey to the community,  the message that we shouldn’t punish our fellow workers who depend on the CATS system in order to hold accountable the CEO. Those are two different issues: one more long term. The patrons that utilize the CATS transit system have an immediate need and the millage renewal is the solution,” said Kaitlyn Joshua Baton Rouge Organizer Power Coalition.

Election Day is November 13th, but early voting has started this week.

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