Editor: CATS' miscalculations could end up costing everyone
In his latest column, Business Report Executive Editor JR Ball says CATS has created an $18 million headache trying to solve a $300,000 problem. To be fair, Ball says, officials with the "parishwide" bus system aren't really sure exactly how much money they're dealing with. That's because the anticipated revenue from an April tax election that was approved in incorporated Baton Rouge and Baker—but defeated in Zachary—continues to change. "When it comes to CATS, financial figures morph as easily and as frequently as the T-1000 cyborg in Terminator 2: Judgment Day," Ball says. And what's scarier than that cyborg, he says, is the fact that many in the Capital Region are only learning about these shifting revenue projections because of a lawsuit challenging the tax election, which is forcing CATS employees to tell the truth about them. "Gary Owens, CFO of CATS, disclosed the tax approved by voters wouldn't generate the revenue to deliver the promises made by CATS prior to the election," Ball notes. "The revenue shortfall, said Owens, was due to 1) the tax not being approved by voters in Zachary (a loss of $1.1 million), 2) the homestead exemption revelation ($2 million), 3) the likelihood of the Metro Council not continuing its annual CATS contribution ($3 million) and 4) the expected loss of monies from the parish transportation fund ($600,000)." Beyond what this scenario is costing CATS in credibility, Ball says, a larger worry pertains to "the problems CATS is creating for other government entities—like BREC, the library system and the public school system—which will want to ask voters to either renew a tax or approve a new one in the near future." Read the full column here. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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