EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The folks behind the effort to create St. George say they've made a lot of progress, securing more than 10,000 signatures.
As of Monday night, they have less than six months to get the 13,000 petition signatures needed to get their effort to voters. Organizers of the proposed city also revealed new details about how St. George would come together, saying they would model it after Sandy Springs, Georgia. That city uses private-public partnerships for its city services, which organizers say makes sense.
"We just want something more for our area. We're unincorporated. I heard somebody say this morning they want to keep us in the same city. We've never been in the same city," said Andrew Murrell, a St. George spokesperson.
However, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome says St. George organizers presented inaccurate information regarding the city-parish's finances. Broome says organizers failed to acknowledge changes the city-parish made to its pension system for regular, municipal, and fire employees hired after 2015. Broome says they've made significant improvements to retirement benefits for those groups.
Broome also says St. George organizers took the Library Board to task on how it spends its dedicated tax revenue, while failing to note that a majority of residents in the proposed city voted to support the library's 2015 tax renewal.
St. George leaders say they don't want to raise taxes, but admitted a tax hike may be needed to create a new school district.
Broome also claims that while St. George organizers talk about the city-parish's finances, they avoid discussing the fact that the city-parish maintains the market's highest bond ratings (AA or AAA), showing a "healthy and sound governance model."