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St. George leaders say they want East Baton Rouge to return residents' tax dollars

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ST. GEORGE - As St. George moves towards becoming its own city, leaders are demanding the City-Parish pay back the taxes St. George residents paid to East Baton Rouge Parish government. 

Parish officials are adamant that's not going to happen.

When East Baton Rouge Parish residents voted on the incorporation of St. George in 2019, Mayor President Sharon Weston Broome and Metro Council member Lamont Cole fought the motion with an injunction. That motion prevented St. George from moving forward, until Friday. 

Four years ago, Broome and Cole said the move would drain EBR of $48 million. The pair also suggested St. George couldn't afford the transition. Attorney Mary Olive Pierson, spoke on behalf of Cole and said the move will have consequences. 

"Our goal has been all along to keep Baton Rouge together," Pierson said. "It will definitely affect East Baton Rouge Parish, and it will definitely affect the city of Baton Rouge, negatively."

St. George leaders say they're flipping the script. Andrew Murrell, the spokesperson for the city, says during the four years of stand-still, citizens still had to pay taxes to the City-Parish. Murrell says St. George is owed the money the City-Parish received since 2019. 

"As the Supreme Court correctly pointed out, the citizens of St. George have been subsidizing the City of Baton Rouge for a very long time now, and frankly the citizens of St. George deserve some of their money back," Murrell said.

Pierson said she disagrees, insisting St. George residents should pay the City-Parish for the services they used. 

"You want your money back, well that's fine," Pierson said. "We want to be paid for all the services that we rendered for the last four years out there, and I guarantee you the number is bigger than the taxes."

At this point neither party knows how much the recollected taxes could add up to. East Baton Rouge will continue providing St. George residents with services until the city government is fully installed.

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