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Annexation will stop St. George effort, may close firehouse

3 years 1 month 2 weeks ago May 05, 2014 May 5, 2014 Monday, May 05 2014 May 05, 2014 5:00 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Chris Nakamoto

BATON ROUGE- If the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana into the city limits of Baton Rouge becomes a reality, the St. George incorporation effort would come to a screeching halt since the legal boundaries that are currently on their petition would change.

It could also force the closure of a firehouse in a thickly-settled area of Baton Rouge on Jefferson Highway between Drusilla and Bluebonnet, because the Mall of Louisiana makes up a good part of the St. George Fire Department's budget. It currently costs about $1.2 million to operate the firehouse, and if annexation occurs at least $500,000 would be removed from the St. George Fire Department's budget, according to St. George Fire Chief Gerry Tarleton.

People like Tanner Knighton live near the firehouse and are concerned.

"Costco just opened int his area, there's a lot of traffic," Knighton said. "They need to have something close by if any accidents happen... I don't even know where the next closest fire station is. It would be a lot safer for this area if that one stayed open."

East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman John Delgado is a big proponent of having the Mall of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General annexed into the City of Baton Rouge.

"I think it's a good thing for the parish at large," Delgado said. "Really, what we are talking about is self determination for people who are asking to be part of the City of Baton Rouge."

If annexation occurs it would invalidate the petition to create the City of St. George, according to leaders of the incorporation effort. The legal boundaries on the back of the petition would change, which would stop the efforts to make the new city.

"This is nothing more than Baton Rouge city government trying to inject themselves into the legal petition process and deny 70,000 registered voters the right to vote," St. George Spokesman Lionel Rainey III said.

As for concerns about a firehouse possibly closing, Delgado suggested there were other solutions.

"I don't think there are any concerns about that because quite honestly, St. George budget can be handled through a cooperative endeavor agreement, where they would continue providing services to the mall," Delgado said.

The EBR Metro Council is scheduled to vote on this issue this month.

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