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Legislative effort to 'break up' BREC

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BATON ROUGE -A Louisiana House committee on Thursday delayed considering a bill that would split up East Baton Rouge Parish's parks across three recreation districts.

The parish system is now run by BREC, which has an annual budget of $95 million and is supported by a property tax. The proposed state law, SB 205, would shift control of parks in Central and Zachary -- and the revenue from those areas -- to newly-created recreation districts for each.

Sen. Bodi White, the Republican from Central who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, is the bill's primary sponsor.  It passed the Senate on May 11 and was set to be heard in the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs.

The committee deferred the bill at White's request. It is now scheduled to be heard next week.

White has said he proposed the bill in hopes of giving taxpayers more control over their parks.

The proposed recreation districts for Central and Zachary would be governed by their own commissions, and include their own superintendents. 

Reaction to the proposal by local government has been mixed. Zachary Mayor David Amrhein supports it, but Central Mayor David Barrow does not.

BREC Superintendent Corey Wilson says the move will increase bureaucracy by setting up three agencies to run park systems.

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