Directors of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce have unanimously endorsed East Baton Rouge Parish’s Mayor-President Kip Holden’s proposed $989 million bond package that would fund an extensive public works and economic development effort. BRAC, representing business owners from nine parishes in the area, said the bond issue would be a needed stimulus for East Baton Rouge Parish and the region.

BRAC chief executive officer Adam Knapp said the board backs the plan “because it represents a major leap forward for our economic development and quality of life goals.”

The chamber’s board voted in favor of putting a single bond question on the November ballot, rather than splitting it up or setting an earlier election date.

The bonds would provide $596 million to improve drainage, traffic signals, and bridges, and prison, police, firefighter, and governmental facilities; $248 million for an Audubon Alive tourist attraction along the Mississippi River, and $145 million to expand the Baton Rouge convention center and its parking garages.

Chamber chairman Jim Ellis said Holden’s plan would create jobs and provide long-term development.

“What truly makes this proposal great is that it takes care of our failures of the past, addresses our challenges of today, and moves the Baton Rouge area forward into the future,” Ellis said. “We are on the path to be a great community, but we can’t get there without these types of investments.”

Voters would be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax increase to 9.5% and an additional 9.9 mills in property tax, or $9.90 per $1,000 of assessed value to support the bonds.

The parish’s sales tax bonds have underlying ratings of A2 from Moody’s Investors Service, and A-plus from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

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