East Baton Rouge Parish president Melvin Holden has proposed a $740.9 million balanced budget for 2011 that projects a 1% increase in sales tax revenue.

Holden said the budget was balanced without the need for layoffs or reduced services.

The 2011 total budget is more than 5% higher than 2010’s, but the proposed general fund budget of $276 million is down almost 3%.

“Although Baton Rouge is in a more favorable situation than many U.S. cities, we too are feeling the effects of the slowdown in the national economy,” Holden said.

The current budget also assumed a 1% increase in sales tax, but actual revenues are down.

In their revenue forecast for the parish, Louisiana State University economists James Richardson and Loren Scott said the expectation for an increase in next year’s sales tax revenue is realistic.

“Sales tax collections for 2009 were approximately 6% less than the city-parish collected in 2008 and sales tax collections in 2010 are now projected to be approximately 3% less than what was collected in 2009,” Richardson wrote.

He said cuts in the state budget could harm the local economy.

Sales tax revenues have fallen from $171.4 million in 2008 to an expected $156 million this year.

Collections through August total $102.7 million, down from $107.8 million over the same period in 2009. The parish’s monthly sales tax collections have fallen below year-earlier totals for 17 straight months.

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