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'A balancing act:' Some Metro Council members hopeful about St. George incorporation

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BATON ROUGE - Many of the St. George's future residents and several community leaders in Baton Rouge have voiced their concerns regarding the new city.

After 13 years and several legal battles, the City of St. George will soon become a reality after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in their favor on Friday. Metro Councilmembers Jen Racca, Laurie Adams and Dwight Hudson's districts will all now include St. George residents. 

Opponents of St. George argue that the new city would divide residents of Baton Rouge and would have a negative financial impact on the city. However, Councilwoman Racca says organizers have everyone's best interest at heart.

"I think the best way for all of us to proceed is to remain neutral," Racca said. 

How it's financially possible is the main concern. Councilwoman Adams says citizens will not be responsible for extra fees.

"Everybody in the City of St. George is going to be paying the same taxes that they've been paying all along. The garbage fee, the library system fee. Just like before," Adams said.

Organizers said the only financial change is that the two-cent sales tax in the city will flow to the government of Saint George instead of Baton Rouge.

Another concern, council members say, is the school system. Councilman Hudson says breaking away from Baton Rouge schools would be for the best.

"We have a lot of capacity issues at our schools. We have a lot of issues with discipline. We want to go in and tackle those issues and make sure that we have a great system for our kids to be educated in," Hudson said.

The new city will not only affect residents. Metro Council members are now responsible for another city. They said their commitment to those they serve remains the same.

"I do think it's going to be a balancing act to balance the interests of the residents that I serve in the city of Baton Rouge and the residents I will serve in the City of St. George," Adams said.

"It's just the nature of how it goes right now. We have different avenues that we have to worry about. We have to represent all of our constituents," Hudson said.

Governor Jeff Landry will appoint an interim mayor and five members for the new St. George city council.

As organizers of the new city decide on their next steps, Councilwoman Racca encourages the community to stay united.

"In regard to how we move forward, it should be collaboratively. I believe that we should keep this from being a divisive issue," Racca said.

A press conference will be held Monday at 10:30 a.m.

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