I vehemently oppose any attempt to create the new city of St. George. I think this effort is unfair to the St. George residents and will have adverse impacts on the entire parish.
Furthermore, there is no reason to proceed with the annexation effort. The purpose of the proposed annexation appears to be a means for creating a new independent school district. The creation of such a district has been rejected by the Louisiana Legislature. It is not even certain that as a city, St. George could create an independent school district.
I am a native of Baton Rouge. I grew up in the 70805 area of the city. Baton Rouge is my home. I now live in the St. George area.
As a former newspaper reporter in Morgan City, I wrote many stories about annexation, incorporation and consolidation of city and parish governments. The concept of the St. George proposal is defective for many reasons, including:
- The area earmarked for the new city is a classic case of gerrymandering. Instead of having one contiguous area, the boundaries of the new city are designed to grab as much tax revenue as possible.
- There are many logistical matters to consider. Residents of the new city will have new addresses. Individuals, families and businesses will have to contact governmental agencies, friends, family members and others to notify them of the change.
- It is not clear if this new city is going to have a municipal police department or depend on the Sheriff’s Office. When will the city charter be written? A mayor and council will have to be elected. There will be endless debates with the parish over what belongs to St. George and what belongs to Baton Rouge.
- By being a city, the homestead exemption will not be available. Property taxes will increase by a significant amount.
All of this is possible because of failed efforts to create another independent school district. Why do we need this district?
Simply stated, creating the new city of St. George is a bad idea that should be stopped. There is nothing to be gained.
I am only one person, but I think there are many who feel the same. Thus, I urge those seeking to create the new city to drop those plans and to accept the fact that the Legislature is not going to create a new independent school district.
Attempting to bypass the two-thirds vote requirement in the Legislature will likely result in a lawsuit. The chance for creating the new school district may improve with the next Legislature. In the meantime, let us not disrupt the lives of so many for such an ill-advised plan.