BATON ROUGE, LA — Driven in part by a national bowling tournament and the two-day Bayou Country Superfest, East Baton Rouge sales-tax revenues continued their torrid pace in May, increasing by 13.62 percent over April of 2011.
Figures released today showed that the 2-percent sales tax dedicated to the City-Parish general fund totaled $15.1 million in May, an increase of $1.8 million over May of 2011. For the first five months of 2012, East Baton Rouge sales-tax receipts have totaled $71.5 million, an increase of 9.19 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden said today that public safety will be the top priority in the budgeting process that gets underway soon to receive any additional available revenue in 2013.
“We kept spending down and followed the conservative fiscal advice of our award-winning Finance Department and it has served us well,” said Holden. “The preventive measures we took during the economic downturn allowed the City-Parish to avoid the layoffs or cuts to services that so many cities have faced.”
“But after seeing a more consistent upturn, we moved to beef up our police and fire departments with new academies in 2012 and we will do the same in the 2013 budget,” Holden said. “In addition, we will be looking at other public safety needs first during the upcoming budget process.”
“The economy is still fragile and good news doesn’t mean there will be a spending spree. We will continue to be responsible and frugal, keeping a tight rein on spending, but public safety will always, always see the first benefit of any additional revenue.”
Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden said the Bayou Country Superfest, which is quickly becoming one of America’s top music festivals, attracted thousands of visitors to Baton Rouge on what would otherwise have been a slow Memorial Day Weekend.
Featuring some of country music’s biggest stars, the Bayou Country Superfest in Tiger Stadium turned Baton Rouge into a major destination and helped to ring up cash registers at local hotels, restaurants and retail outlets.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Bowling Congress Open Championships, which began Feb. 11 and concluded earlier this month, continued to draw bowlers from across the country. With most bowlers staying between three and four days, the five-month event was projected to attract 100,000 visitors and to have a $100 million economic impact on the Baton Rouge area.
This is the second time that the tournament has been held in Baton Rouge. The tournament was held here for the first time in 2005, and that event was so successful that Mayor Holden and local tourism officials launched an all-out effort that succeeded in convincing USBC officials to return the tournament Baton Rouge this year.
The Mayor also credited Baton Rouge’s growing film industry as a major factor behind the thriving sales-tax receipts.
“We worked even harder this year to maximize the return on these events and to recruit movie projects and new businesses to East Baton Rouge Parish,” Holden said. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of our diversified economy that helped us avoid the massive shortfalls that literally broke so many U.S. cities during the recent recession,” Holden said.
“It’s no wonder Parade Magazine named Baton Rouge one of the Hardest Working Cities in America,” Holden said. “When the recession swept across our country, we rolled up our sleeves and worked through it. This good news is a tremendous credit to the strength of our local businesses and the spirit of our citizens.”