Posted: Jan 8, 2014 5:40 PM by Jason Newton
Updated: Jan 8, 2014 6:46 PM
BATON ROUGE - East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor Kip Holden came out swinging against any incorporation efforts for the proposed city of St. George.
Holden talked about economic highlights of the past year during his annual State of the Parish address, and also spoke of the decrease in the city's murder rate. But he said if St. George incorporates into its own city, it could threaten the progress that's been made.
From the IBM groundbreaking, to the announcement of a water research campus soon to be built on the riverfront, Holden highlighted economic achievements of the past year. His tone quickly changed when he talked of St. George incorporation efforts.
"It would have to duplicate government services currently provided by consolidated government," Holden said. "And you know what duplicate services means: duplicated costs."
Holden said that a new city incorporating southern parts of the parish would adversely affect everything from public safety to public schools.
"We do not allow a small group of citizens to divide us, weaken our capital city, bankrupt our future," Holden said.
The St. George organizers disagree with the mayor's comments.
"He took that opportunity today to vilify leaders of the movements... (to) discard concerns of people in this area," said Lionel Rainey III, of the Committee to Incorporate St. George.
Organizers said they're giving people a voice and want the issue to be taken to voters.
"We believe St. George is one thing that can save East Baton Rouge Parish," Rainey said, "and keep people here and attract young people back to the parish."
The St. George organizers said their petition has a little more than half of their goal of 20,000.