This is a response to the recent letter to the editor by Larry Wall. As a former newspaper reporter, Mr. Wall should do a better job of checking his facts. He makes four points in his letter, all of which are completely false.
“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.”
Fact: The boundary of the proposed city is contiguous. A contiguous boundary is a requirement for the creation of the city. In fact, the proposed boundary includes all contiguous land area within the St. George and East Side Fire districts — how is that gerrymandering?
“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.”
Fact: Your address will not change if you live in the area that would become St. George. The USPS has a policy of not recognizing the existence or boundaries of new municipalities. Ask the city of Central; it exhausted all possible remedies, including both U.S. senators and the postmaster general, to get the USPS to recognize the existence of it as a city. The USPS does allow residents of Central to use “Central” in their address, as long as they use the correct ZIP code.
“It is not clear if this new city is going to have a municipal police department or depend on the Sheriff’s Office.”
Fact: The leaders of the effort to incorporate St. George have been crystal clear on this point: Law enforcement will be provided by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. There is no intention to create separate municipal police department.
“By being a city, the homestead exemption will not be available. Property taxes will increase by a significant amount.”
Fact: The Louisiana Homestead Exemption has nothing to do with whether you live in a city or an unincorporated part of a parish. Baton Rouge residents can take advantage of it just as residents in the unincorporated part of the parish. And while no one can predict the future with respect to taxes, it is neither the intention nor the belief of the leaders of the effort to incorporate St. George that taxes would be raised to fund the city, or the school system for that matter.
While I respect the right of anyone to disagree with the proposed effort to incorporate St. George, I vehemently object to the blatantly false information presented in Mr. Wall’s letter.