Proposed city’s budget would come up short, opposition report says

The proposed city of St. George won’t take in nearly as much money as organizers initially planned, according to a report released today from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

The report shows revenues will amount to almost $30 million less than the proposed $80 million budget, after key sales tax generators like the Mall of Louisiana and Costco were annexed into the City of Baton Rouge.

The St. George budget lost tax base from another $7 million in gaming revenues due to the annexation of L’Auberge casino.

BRAF and BRAC hired the Baton Rouge accounting firm Faulk & Winkler to study the revenues. The report concludes that property taxes would have to be increased by 20.5 mills to cover the deficit. For a house valued at $350,000, the increase would amount to $720 more in taxes a year.

Lionel Rainey, spokesperson for the St. George incorporation effort, calls the report a political move.

“We think it’s ironic that the same organizations that were saying we’ll break East Baton Rouge because we have so much money are now saying we don’t have any money and we’ll have to raise taxes. The political campaign to defeat us at the ballot box has already begun,” Rainey says.

Rainey’s group has organized a petition to allow voters to decide whether their unincorporated part of the parish should become its own city. The group has turned the petition in to the Registrar of Voters and hopes to see the measure on the May ballot. Check out a full copy of the report.

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