BR annexation move called ‘money grab’

Councilman forms group to study issue

East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso called recent proposals to extend the city limits of Baton Rouge a “money grab” during a speech Tuesday to a business group.

Amoroso, a Republican, along with state Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, spoke to the East Baton Rouge Parish Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday.

The pair spoke on issues that will confront the city-parish and the state over the coming months.

Adding parts of the parish to Baton Rouge’s incorporated limits would take funding from the East Side and St. George Fire Departments, Amoroso said.

“That should not happen right now in Baton Rouge,” he said.

Amoroso also said he is opposed to any move to make the Baton Rouge police chief an elected position.

“I am more committed to consolidation of the Baton Rouge Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “If we have an elected police chief, that would short circuit that process.”

Metro Councilman Joel Boé has formed a committee to study the issue.

Amoroso said the proposed consolidation of law enforcement would not be easy to accomplish.

“Consolidation is very complicated,” Amoroso said. “We will have to go before the Legislature and the people of the parish and possibly the state.”

Combining two retirement systems would pose an additional challenge, he said.

Amoroso also said he has concerns about how the parish’s $1.5 billion Sanitary Sewer Overflow program is being funded.

The program is funded by a half-cent tax and sewer user fees, which automatically increase by four percent per year.

Amoroso said he would like to see the automatic increases halted.

“I don’t know if that’s realistic,” he said. “But I don’t want any more increases.”

Hodges spoke after Amoroso and spent the majority of her time discussing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tax-overhaul proposal.

Though she hadn’t read the entire proposal yet, Hodges said she was “reading parts of it.”

“I’m still in the process” of going through the 95-page document, she said.

Hodges said she was undecided on whether to support the plan, but praised Jindal for his willingness to listen to concerns.

“We have got structural problems in our budget,” Hodges said, citing the need for change. “Things will have to be cut.”