The Baton Rouge Area Chamber this morning announced strong opposition to Louisiana Sen. Bodi White’s SB205, which would break up East Baton Rouge’s park system and create separate park entities for the towns of Central and Zachary.
BRAC issued the following in its statement:
“All of our benchmarking research comparing the Capital Region against peer metros points to the importance of quality of place for attracting and retaining business and talent, and we have been fortunate that one of our main assets that actually gives us a competitive advantage is our nationally-recognized EBR park system. If passed, SB 205 would do unnecessary and significant harm to that asset. This bill is, consequently, bad for economic development, and for that reason we strongly oppose its passage. We have also been greatly troubled by the proposal lacking much basic business sense, in that it would balkanize resources rather than leverage them, and would increase costs by duplicating administrative overhead rather than capturing the efficiencies of economy of scale, as the current system does.”
Also in its statement, BRAC asks that lawmakers consider that the local community was not consulted prior to the bill’s introduction, and that surveys conducted by BREC with more than 1,200 residents after the bill was filed showed that 77% of respondents were either against the bill or did not know anything about it.
As Daily Report reported Tuesday, White’s SB205 has become one of the more controversial bills in the current legislative session, with White and his opponents waging dueling billboard campaigns over an issue that is being decided by lawmakers outside the Capital Region rather than by local voters and taxpayers.
Opponents have suggested White’s bill could somehow benefit him personally and that it would set a precedent for other municipalities, like the prospective city of St. George, to break away and create their own independent parks agencies. White has denied he has any ulterior motive outside of wanting greater efficiencies.
SB205 is scheduled for a hearing Thursday by the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs, which deferred the bill last Thursday at White’s request, even though dozens of opponents had shown up to speak against it. See BRAC’s full statement.