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Rep. Echols questions city’s priorities, Mayor Mayo defends asking the state for new arena funds



MONROE, La.– The City of Monroe asked the state for $15M in capital outlay funding to help pay for an event center that Mayor Jamie Mayo says would be used for flood recovery. It’s been marked Priority 5 by the city, which means it’s not urgent.
State officials say more important issues like drainage and flooding control should have been at the top of the list. KTVE/KARD caught up with Mayor Mayo and District 14 State Representative, Michael Echols. Here’s the argument from both sides:

“When the number two priority is building an event center over protecting people from flooding and flooding concerns, that’s a massive problem,” Rep. Echols said.

“When you have 7 out of 17 projects that’s related to drainage and flood control and enhancements and those type things, I think that speaks volumes,” Mayor Mayo said. “To fund those they may just look at 15, 16, and 17.”

“As legislators we are going to look at these things and go okay, this is number one, this is number two, if we have dollars available, this is where we go first,” Rep. Echols said. “Having this list is critical for us to know what the administration is saying this is where we go next.”

“We will never, never put anything in front or above those things that need to be done in the city,” Mayor Mayo said. “Now as far as the event center in concerned, we are looking for the future. We are providing for the future opportunities to bring in 1100 jobs.”

“I think if you are building a facility or you are proposing to build a 100 million dollar facility that has very similar seating and calling it something else, like a flood recovery center, when it specifically it is an arena, to bring in the roughly 7,000 plus people that already can fit in our current arena, that it’s more of a diversion tactic,” Rep. Echols said.

“Now what we’ve done is just making sure that it’s still on the minds of our legislature,” Mayor Mayo said.

“Let’s fix the things we have first and then after we get those right, then work on building new projects, but not before that,” Rep. Echols said.

“The bottom line is Representative Echols has politicized this whole process along with his mentee, who is the campaign manager for Oliver Ellis,” Mayor Mayo said. “So, because of that he has been able to get this out there to make our citizens feel that we are putting one thing ahead of the other, but that’s not the point at all.”