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St. George starts work Monday to set council districts, formalize revenue vote

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ST. GEORGE — Officials have scheduled two votes for Monday that will greatly advance setting up the new city of St. George.

The interim council will meet at 5 p.m. to name a demographer to set boundaries for the aldermen's districts, and the panel is also expected to set a public vote on a plan to divert proceeds raised under a 2 percent sales and use tax from East Baton Rouge Parish to the new city.

The council currently has five aldermen — three in districts and two at-large. How many it will have in the future will depend on the demographer's findings.

Mike Hefner, a demographer who mapped out the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council districts being challenged in court, described for WBRZ previously how the work is done. 

"First thing we do is we take a look at the current districts they have in effect," he said. With figures from the 2020 Census in hand, the demographer will determine whether the current council districts are still balanced, and then adjust them if they aren't.

"We find out which ones are outside plus or minus 5 percent from the district average," Hefner said. "Then we make adjustments to their boundaries to either put people in or take people out to rebalance the total population."

When voters approved St. George's creation in October 2019, the area of southeastern East Baton Rouge Parish had about 86,000 residents. It's likely swollen to more than 100,000, even with Baton Rouge having annexed some of St. George's territory.

St. George is Louisiana's fifth-largest city, behind New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Lafayette. Lake Charles fell to sixth when the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld St. George's creation last month.

Mayor Dustin Yates said St. George will launch with the same objective as any city.

"We all want the same things. We want a great government. We want safe streets for our children and our families and we want a great place to live," he said.

The St. George council is also scheduled to approve leasing office space from the St. George Fire Department, OK an emergency management plan, adopt a city seal and, for the time being, authorize using the city-parish's development code as its own.

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