REPOST: If You Vote For An $8 Million Dedicated Tax In Baton Rouge To Subsidize The Council On Aging, You’re A Moron

Now you can cue the accusations that we at the Hayride hate old people, because that’s how these things work.

In fact, that’s how it happened that this $8 million attempted robbery of your bank account managed to get on the ballot – there weren’t enough Republicans on the East Baton Rouge Metro Council with the sand to refuse the Council On Aging when it demanded a two-and-a-half-mil property tax increase to be dedicated to more than doubling its budget.

Currently the CoA spends $4.04 million per year – which is something of a problem seeing as though last year they only managed to take in $3.67 million. That’s what an audit performed in March said

The amount of money that the Council on Aging took in during 2015 was down by 4 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, expenses increased by 14 percent, inflating to nearly $4.04 million despite the council only having $3.67 million in revenue. The council completed the fiscal year that ended June 2015 more than $200,000 in the red; the deficit balance shrunk a bit thanks to a $168,306 surplus from the previous year.

The council is planning several new policies to decrease its deficit, according to the audit. They want to create and follow better budgets that reduce expenses, increase revenue from private grants and stop fundraising programs that are not profitable.

Amar said the council has an agreement that the auditors will help them finalize their financial statements because the council cannot afford to hire an independent CPA to oversee their books.

Baton Rouge-based L.A. Champagne & Co. LLP performed the audit, which also says the council is violating its lease agreement for its building on Florida Boulevard. The audit says the council only has $2.5 million in fire and casualty insurance even though its lease requirement with the city-parish requires them to have $5 million in coverage.

Amar and Pratt said the lease complaints will go away once the council moves into a building they are renovating on Main Street. They said they expect to move sometime in the next two years.

They said their insurance appraisers valued their current building at $2.5 million, which is why their insurance coverage is not for $5 million.

And why did the CoA lose $200,000? Here’s why, according to them…

Amar and CFO Eva Pratt said Monday that the reason for the 2015 deficit was that the council sank more than $200,000 into an attempt to open a bingo hall that would create a steady revenue stream. But the bingo hall was not successful, and the council started to lose money on the effort.

The council would have finished the year with a surplus if not for the bingo losses, Pratt said.

They lost money on bingo.

Nobody loses money on bingo. These guys blew 200K on a bingo hall, and couldn’t turn a buck off it. And now they want $7.8 million siphoned out of your bank account, which you can bet the farm will lead to them losing even more money on.

Here’s what Metro Councilman Ryan Heck, who isn’t running for re-election and therefore is able to speak his mind, had to say about the ballot measure – which Heck voted, unsuccessfully, to kill – yesterday on Facebook…

Lot’s of things on the ballot this fall.

I’m a big fan of voting your conscience. We all have a unique perspective and that’s why our democracy works. We don’t need an all powerful ruler to make every decision. The will of the electorate rules.

That being said, one dedicated property tax that voters in EBR will decide on this fall is a millage for the Council on Aging.

It’s a nice thing to support seniors. A great thing. HOWEVER, the EBR Council on Aging is the most poorly run agency I’ve seen in 4 years on the council.

You think CATS is bad? CATS is light years ahead of the CoA in terms of transparency and accountability. And that ain’t saying much right? If the voters of EBR give the Council on Aging a dedicated revenue stream, trust that their money will be 100% wasted.

People will go to prison, and it will be a shit show of epic proportions.

DO NOT VOTE FOR THE DEDICATED TAX FOR COUNCIL ON AGING. THERE IS VERY LITTLE OVERSIGHT. IT IS GROSSLY MISMANAGED AND THEY ARE ASKING TO DOUBLE THEIR CURRENT BUDGET.

This tax proposal made it to the ballot for one reason alone! Your elected council representative didn’t want to be on record in a election year making a vote against “seniors.” Yes, supporting seniors is great. But giving this type of money to the CoA is not the way to accomplish that noble goal!

And in the Facebook thread under Heck’s communique yesterday were some interesting comments…

heck-fb-thread-coa

Bonnie Budyach is a Metro Council candidate. She’s running for the seat Heck is vacating. Matt Watson, who’s also running (he’s been Heck’s legislative assistant the past four years), is who she’s talking about.

It turns out the Council on Aging didn’t make an endorsement on principle in that Metro Council race, or at least not for the ballots they put out courtesy of their PAC. Here’s what went in the mail courtesy of the CoA’s non-profit mail permit (which would seem to be a no-no; we weren’t aware you could use a non-profit mail permit for a political mailer)…

ebr-council-on-aging-senior-pac-endorsements

The Save Our Seniors PAC doesn’t appear to be much of a big-dollar outfit; its campaign finance report only shows about $26,000 in contributions. Most of the folks on the ballot are included as contributors – or at least the local ones are.

Of course, while they don’t all have status as contributors to the PAC in common they do have something else – namely, that every one of them has a D next to their names.

So that’s what you’re paying for if you’re stupid enough to give these people double their budget in a dedicated property tax. You do that and you’ll be providing a fat, sweaty wad of cash to Tasha Clark Amar, the lady pictured at the top of this post. She’s the CEO of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging and the person who can’t make a profit off bingo or provide meals on wheels in a town full of food trucks on a budget of $3.67 million per year.

But like P.T. Barnum said, there’s a sucker born every minute. Who knows? We might have a majority of suckers in this parish. We’ll find out in two weeks.

UPDATE: By the way, our suspicions were correct – using that non-profit mailing permit to send out a PAC mailer is verboten

A recent mailer in support of a dedicated tax for the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging wrongly was sent out using a discounted postage rate meant only for nonprofits, according to the head of a group supporting the tax proposal.

The mailer, which also features candidate endorsements, not only used the nonprofit postage discount, but also listed a return address at the Florida Boulevard location of the Council on Aging.

The Support Our Seniors political action committee that paid for the flier received a reduced bulk mail rate because of the Council on Aging’s nonprofit status, said Rick Caballero, the PAC chairman.

A U.S. Postal Service customer ruling says political action committees that are separate and distinct from the agencies they represent “may not mail at the nonprofit rates.”

“This is a mistake, there’s no doubt about it,” Caballero said. “The PAC paid for the mailer, the PAC paid for the postage, not the Council on Aging.”

Clark referred all questions on the nonprofit postage on the mailers back to Caballero. But Caballero said it was people from the Council on Aging who had the fliers printed and who mistakenly told the printer to use their nonprofit postage rate.

He said the PAC paid 9.6 cents apiece for the mailers to go out and for their postage, but that they should have paid 12 cents apiece because they are a political action committee and not a nonprofit. Caballero said he is trying to get a count of how many of the fliers were mailed out, which may fall between 20,000 and 30,000, and that he plans to reimburse the postal service for the rest of the money.

“We got a discount through the PAC that is only applicable to the nonprofit,” Caballero said.

These are the same clowns who decided to violate their lease agreement and carry half the insurance it requires, because they didn’t feel like it. They also didn’t feel like paying the full rate to the post office for their money-grabbing PAC mailer – until they got called on it.

Like we said above, if you actually vote to double their budget out of not just your wallet but your neighbors’ as well, you’re not just a sucker in your own right – you can be that just by writing them your own check – you’re a dangerous sucker for robbing your neighbors on behalf of somebody who is guaranteed to piss their money away.

UPDATE #2: Plus we have this…

coa-blackout

Is this what you want your tax dollars to support?

 

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