On Friday, a study commissioned by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber analyzed the one-page budget proposal put out by the organizers of the St. George incorporation effort and promptly took a dump on it…
If St. George successfully incorporates and becomes a new city, the new government and school board would have to raise property taxes by at least 20.5 mills to cover city operational costs and to build enough schools to house all the students living in the area, according to a report released Friday by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
The two agencies hired accounting firm Faulk and Winkler to evaluate St. George’s one-page proposed budget and estimate the costs of running a city and independent school system.
BRAF and BRAC also backed another key report released a year ago, authored by LSU economist Jim Richardson, that warned the city of St. George would take 40 percent of the sales tax revenue currently funding city-parish operations.
The most recent report concluded St. George would immediately run into a cash shortfall both for city operations and for the capital construction that would be required to build schools to support an independent school system.
At 20.5 mills, the report says, a person with a house valued at $350,000 would pay $720 more in property taxes per year, with the homestead exemption.
And the St. George organizers, in a Facebook post, responded by taking a dump on BRAC…
As expected, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and Baton Rouge Area Chamber released a study today that claims taxes must rise if St. George is incorporated. Of course that’s what it says. These are the same two groups who released a study earlier in the year claiming St. George would have so much money that it would bankrupt the entire parish if formed. As a pure political tactic, they now claim that we are dirt poor and will need to raise taxes to exist.
That’s patently inaccurate.
The status quo is scared of us. They are scared that you now know the truth. They will literally say anything to prevent this from happening. If we are successful, gone are the days of insiders being able to influence the direction of the parish to benefit themselves. Gone are the days of their reign over this town and parish. We are a direct threat to them.
They have polled this area extensively and believe that threatening you with higher taxes is their best hope of fracturing our efforts.
But we know better and this isn’t a game. This is about our future in this parish; our children’s future in this parish. This is about standing up to the status quo and saying, “no thank you.”
At first glance, we can already tell the “study” is grossly inaccurate. It is based on biased assumptions and out-right inaccurate data. In addition, they assume this city will be run in the same irresponsible way the City of Baton Rouge is run. We will not use failed models of the past to create a city of the future. We will create a city that is responsive to the needs of its residents and responsible with their tax dollars. Your tax dollars will no longer go to downtown projects for the insider elite.
As part of this ongoing process, we will be releasing detailed budget data prepared by an independent firm that has no connections to the area. Voters will make the informed choice that’s best for their families.
This has been a long fight and we will continue to fight for you, and fight for the future of this parish. This will not be the last time they attempt to derail our efforts, but we are determined to take this to a ballot and let the people decide their future.
From everyone here, we’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and we hope that your holidays are filled with joy and laughter.
The $720 per year tax increase the BRAF/BRAC study presents is probably not a dealbreaker for a lot of the St. George residents; particularly those who are parents of school-age kids and who are considering private school as a means of escaping the awful East Baton Rouge public schools.
But we’ll definitely see a lot more back-and-forth over the finances of St. George, as that’s a fluid situation – particularly given the annexations of the Mall of Louisiana and L’Auberge Casino in recent months.