The East Baton Rouge Parish Metropolitan Council last week delayed passing a resolution on whether to place an $887.5 million capital improvement bond program on the ballot later this year.

Instead, the council said it would vote on Sept. 2, after holding a public hearing.

The decision came after parish Mayor-President Kip Holden withdrew a controversial plan that called for creating a special taxing district for the bond program that would enable the parish to exclude the cities of Baker, Zachary, and Central. Voters in Zachary and Central overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal in 2008, while Baker passed the proposal by a slim majority.

Holden said he withdrew the tax district proposals because constituents complained that it was divisive.

After the public hearing next month, the council will decide whether to place the bond issue on the Nov. 14 ballot to be decided by all voters in the parish.

If approved, the program would finance capital improvements through a series of bond issues supported by a half-cent sales tax and a 9.9-mill property tax levied for 30 years. Bond proceeds would finance public safety and city hall improvements, educational and recreational developments, drainage projects, and renovation of the downtown convention center and an adjacent parking garage.

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