BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome unveiled the 2024 budget priorities for the city and parish to the East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council.
For the first time in many years, the operating budget is being funded entirely through Recurring Revenues. Broome presented her budget to the Metro Council holding a special meeting.
These balanced budgets emphasize the Broome administration’s unwavering commitment to delivering cost-efficient services that enhance public safety, drainage, transportation, and economic development, while also improving the quality of life for all parish residents.
“My goals and my vision and for this city and for this community,” said Broome. “Reflection of the responses to the citizen’s concerns, and uplift the quality of life for everyone.”
The General Fund proposal for 2024 totals $381,269,450, which is an increase of 6.09% from 2023. Areas requiring increased funding in the General Fund include employee benefit programs, constitutional offices, court-related services, operating expenses impacted by inflation and capital outlay for public safety agencies.
The proposed budget for 2024 for all funds, exclusive of operating transfers between funds, totals $1,154,752,720. This is an increase of 5.9% from the 2023 budget.
The Baton Rouge police and fire departments have been an ongoing topic regarding recruiting to needing additional funds.
Public safety remains a top priority. $6.2 million has been allocated to funding capital purchases for the police and fire departments. Funds have also been allocated to support 2024 training academies to address recruitment needs.
Broome has made progress over the last two years in shortening compensation gaps for all of government and law enforcement officials but recognizes that more work is needed. The city parish recently selected a firm to perform a Total Compensation and Job Specifications Revision Study that will include a comprehensive job specification analysis, as well as a review of salaries and benefits for all employees.
“So when we have those salaries, believe that we’ll see a greater influx of individuals who want to work for the city-parish government,” Broome said.
Another strong topic discussed at the special meeting was stormwater management and drainage. $65 million, which is a third of the American Rescue funds, has been allocated for the parish drainage needs.
In the last two years, more than $56 million has been allocated for parish drainage needs. The establishment of a dedicated Stormwater Division within the Department of Environmental Services, supported by Broome’s administration, is aimed at making recommendations on stormwater management and long-term funding requirements.
Collaborative projects, like the recently completed Comite River cleaning, play a pivotal role in reducing flood hazards. Stormwater compliance needs have been previously funded for 2024 through ARPA funding and the General Fund. Broome has dedicated an additional $7 million in General Fund reserves for 2025 stormwater compliance needs.
Two additional topics for Broome’s proposed budget are economic growth and development plus transportation and mobility.
The Baton Rouge metropolitan area is projected to gain 11,500 jobs in 2024 and 13,000 jobs in 2025. Major contributors include the Amazon fulfillment center opening in mid-2024, the Burrell Aviation air cargo hub and various industrial construction projects.
The local economy, bolstered by sales tax growth, accommodates rising employee benefit costs and state-mandated expenses, enabling the 2024 operating budget to be funded entirely through recurring revenues.
Improving transportation and mobility is vital for the continued growth of the city. The MOVEBR program, the largest infrastructure, mobility enhancement, and traffic mitigation program in the parish’s history, is progressing well.
A detailed breakdown of the program includes 47 completed projects, 33 in the construction phase, eight in the planning phase, 15 in the right-of-way procurement phase and 20 in the design phase. The synchronization of traffic signals is expected to enhance traffic flow and will be completed by the end of the year.
District 5 Councilman Daryl Hurs said he’s pleased to see a “recurring revenues” budget, meaning no additional funding is required. Not just for his district, but the others will also have a four percent increase to spend on more resources.
“It’s about enhancing the city of Baton Rouge, and not restoring it,” said Hurst. “To ensure, not just my district but every district, every department within the city-parish has the resources they need to make 2024 a better year.”
To view the proposed 2024 budget, click here.