Mayor's office to consider 20% budget cut in preparation of successful St. George effort
BATON ROUGE – In a quiet email Wednesday, the mayor’s office issued a news release warning of a significant revenue reduction to the city-parish budget should the proposed City of St. George successfully carve out a new municipality in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The mayor’s office said St. George could suck about $48.3 million from the city-parish budget annually. Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s office called the budget change “devastating.”
“This analysis shows the devastating effect an incorporation would have on the remaining residents of the City-Parish who, currently, are not allowed to vote on the issue,” the mayor said in a prepared statement.
The mayor's office tells WBRZ the city's Finance Department paid $17,500 to complete the study, which began in June 2018 and concluded in September that same year.
The mayor’s office is backing a state law that, if passed, would take effect in August and require a parish-wide vote of the St. George proposal. Currently, only people who live within the boundaries of the proposed city would vote. The proposal, pushed through the legislature by Senator Yvonne Colomb, is written in such a way that only specific parameters of Baton Rouge qualify for requiring a parish-wide vote.
“I wholeheartedly support this legislation. Each and every resident of East Baton Rouge Parish would be negatively affected by the breakaway and deserve an opportunity to weigh-in on the final decision,” the mayor said in the statement.
Broome threatened a government cutback should St. George move forward: “Given that budgeted amounts for debt service and constitutional mandates cannot be reduced, these numbers reveal that every City-Parish department and agency would need to be cut by a minimum of 18% across the board. If we protect public safety from the cuts – our police and fire fighters – the budgets for all remaining City-Parish departments and agencies would need to be reduced by a minimum of 45%.”
“A budget reduction of the magnitude described in the study would equate to cuts to City-Parish services as well as sweeping cuts to all agencies that receive local government support.”
To plan for the likelihood of St. George being approved by voters in the fall, the mayor’s office said it is requiring all departments and agencies to submit a version of budgets that account for a 20% cut. Departments and agencies will be required to outline service impacts associated with the reduced funding level.
The news release was issued around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. St. George has not responded yet.
Click HERE to read the entire study package.
The mayor's office said the study cost $17,500 and was paid for through the finance department. The study began in June 2018 and was completed in September.
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