JR Ball: What was behind Bodi White’s efforts to split BREC

    So, what are we to make of state Sen. Bodi White and his quest to convince legislators from across Louisiana to slice and dice the very local government agency known as BREC?

    Oh sure, White—facing mounting criticism over the self-serving effort to drag state government into a hyper-local turf war—announced he was shelving the bill for at least 12 months, writes Business Report Executive Editor J.R. Ball in a new opinion piece. 

    But does anyone really believe this is the last we’ve heard on the subject from White?

    It’s not like this is the first time White has threatened to break up the generally well-regarded—by government standards—parks and recreation department of East Baton Rouge Parish, only to retreat once BREC officials bent the knee, kissed his ring and vowed to better serve his whims. He pulled a similar stunt in 2008.

    The superficial theory behind SB205 would be to create independent park systems for both Central and Zachary, breaking free from BREC. White argues that residents of these two hamlets not only deserve a greater say in the spending of their property-tax dollars, but also flying solo keeps those dollars homeward bound. It matters zero, apparently, that property owners in these two cities collectively generate just $4.5 million of BREC’s $95 million annual budget, meaning there’s far more money flowing in from north Baton Rouge and elsewhere in the parish than flowing out, Ball writes. 

    White’s latest extortion of BREC wasn’t really about Zachary or Central. It was pretty much all about establishing a precedent for St. George should the courts one day rule in favor of its incorporation.

    BREC can survive just nicely without Central and Zachary; it can’t without St. George and its nearly 90,000 residents. 

    Read Ball’s full column from the latest edition of Business Report.