EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - On Oct. 12, voters will decide on one of the more controversial items on some of your ballots: Should St. George become a city?
On Thursday, Sept. 12, officials talked about how they plan to spend taxpayer money and their stance on taxes, which officials say they will not be raised.
“Don’t be deceived by saying that future tax increases are associated with the City of St. George. That’s simply not true,” said Chris Rials with the St. George incorporation effort.
The St. George incorporation folks believe they can do a better job of spending their taxes themselves.
“For the first time in the citizens of St. George history, the $48 million of sales tax revenue is not going everywhere all over the parish. It’s going to be spent at home for projects for the citizens of St. George,” said Andrew Murrell with the St. George incorporation effort. People had the opportunity to ask any of their lingering questions they have about the proposal.
“Are you going to listen to developers and get what the tax dollars you can milk out of it?” asked one citizen.
“My question is how can you say it’s a majority minority school district?” questioned another resident.
The pro-St. George folks want to model pretty much everything off what the City of Central did, and say their possible new residents can’t afford new taxes, and they won’t need them.
“They’ve never raised taxes at the City of Central. In fact, Central has been the same 2% sales tax and fees they’ve collected the entire time,” said Murrell. But critics say the numbers for the proposed new city don’t add up.
“Huge questions about how much taxes will be raised? Where those raised taxes will go to?” said M.E. Cormier with One Baton Rouge. Cormier believes if St. George incorporates, it will hurt East Baton Rouge Parish as a whole.
“An LSU economics study has shown very clearly that taxes will have to be raised in the St. George area, and probably parish wide,” he said. “Just for all of us to maintain the same services that we already receive."
“Middle income families can live here, and not just survive, but thrive. That’s how we’re going to make it a better parish, by bringing people home,” said Murrell.
One Baton Rouge, the opposition group, will be at a similar town hall to discuss their finance concerns on Sept. 26.
Early voting begins Sept. 28.