Mayor-President Broome against St. George, talks unity
BATON ROUGE - EBR Mayor President Sharon Weston Broome said Wednesday the city-parish can best tackle its challenges if it stays united. Speaking on camera for the first time since the St. George incorporation petition was certified Monday, Broome said there are good reasons for citizens in the southern part of the parish to feel included under the current form of government.
"The fact that thirty percent of MoveEBR [road expansion program] is going in the proposed city of St. George speaks volumes that we are including everyone in this city and parish. So I want to build on positives like that," said Broome.
Only voters living in the proposed city will be able to decide whether to incorporate and separate from the city-parish. If successful, the break away city would take millions of dollars in tax revenue with it.
The city-parish estimates it would lose $48.3 million annually, or about one-fifth of its general fund. Half of the general fund is currently used to fund Baton Rouge city police and fire protection.
According to the city-parish finance department:
If you took the 2018 Budget and excluded statutory requirements, debt service obligations, and public safety then the remainder of the budget would have to be reduced by 45% to balance the budget with a revenue reduction of $48.3 million.
Based on the 2018 Budget, sources of revenues for the General Fund would be reduced by an estimated $48.3 million, of which $42.2 million is sales tax.
"It's a little premature to say exactly how much," said Broome. "There will be a fiscal impact for the proposed St. George city and the remaining Baton Rouge community."
"I don't think it will be as dire as everyone is predicting," said metro council member Chandler Loupe. He fully supports the incorporation movement as most of his district is in the proposed city.
Loupe said he believes the net loss of city-parish revenue will be closer to $25 million.
"St. George is going to be assuming some of the services the city-parish provides. I'm sure there will be savings in that but [EBR] will also have to look at cutting its budget," he said.
The St. George petition has been sent to the governor for verification before an election is scheduled.
Broome said she's going to make sure citizens in the proposed city and in the rest of the city-parish have all the facts about the effects of St. George before the vote.