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Proposed City of St. George: Joint Petition for Annexation into City of Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, La. – After careful consideration of the potential impacts to the many communities we serve, and in alignment with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) and Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) white paper on the impacts of proposed new municipality in East Baton Rouge Parish authored by LSU Economists, led by Dr. Jim Richardson, Baton Rouge General’s Board of Trustees has decided to submit a joint petition with the Mall of Louisiana for annexation into the City of Baton Rouge.

The General’s support in petitioning to annex into the City of Baton Rouge aligns with the BRAF and BRAC report that raised significant concerns about the viability of the existing city and the proposed City of St. George (Richardson, 2013):

  • Taking $85 million, or 30 percent, from the East Baton Rouge Parish General Fund. This is mainly because the General Fund is significantly supported by sales taxes, which are produced where retail outlets are located even though the sales taxes are paid by people who shop from all across the parish. The Mall of Louisiana, for instance, is a regional shopping destination that would be located in the proposed municipality.
  • Creating risk for increased taxes to make up for lost revenues and leading to significant reductions in public services, particularly police protection, which accounts for 29 percent of general fund expenditures.
  • Destabilizing and jeopardizing the unified plan of government from unsustainable retirement and post-employment benefit costs unless the new city shares in legacy costs. Totaling about $110 million a year, current retirement expenses and benefits are an obligation of all taxpayers in the parish.
  • Threatening economic development and job creation efforts due to fractured and duplicative regulatory and permitting processes and the interjection of sales tax competition between two cities currently considered one community.
  • Cutting funding for the EBRPSS even more than the breakaway district proposed in 2012 and 2013, mainly because the proposed city has a larger geographic area with major destination retailers that produce sales taxes from people all over the parish.

“Baton Rouge General has served the surrounding 9-parish region for more than a century, and this decision will not distract from what we do every day – that is, putting patients and families first, across our entire service region, to deliver the highest quality of care possible. At the same time, we recognize the valid reasons that underlie this proposal, and support continued collaborative discussion that can inform and address the concerns of our citizens – namely our children and our schools,” said Evelyn Hayes, MD, Chair, Baton Rouge General Board of Trustees.

Mark Slyter, Baton Rouge General/General Health System’s President and CEO added, “As a multi-campus health system within East Baton Rouge Parish, we are in the business of healthcare, and have served our entire community and region, regardless of boundary, for more than 100 years. Therefore, this has been a difficult and unusual political position for us – whether through informed judgment or silence, there is impact. Our organization does not want to stand in the way of the voting process, nor in the way of stakeholders who are acting in the best interests of their organizations’ collective wisdom.”

“As our research indicates, the incorporation of the new municipality, which is proposed as a means to create a separate school district, would have significant and potentially damaging financial and socioeconomic consequences on the City of Baton Rouge, the existing public school system, as well as the residents of the entire parish, including those in the proposed new city,” said Adam Knapp, BRAC President and CEO. “We believe there are better solutions to enhance educational opportunities and a recent BRAC poll makes it clear that a majority of the residents within the boundaries of the proposed city of St. George agree – with nearly twice as many respondents preferring an approach that provides greater control over the community’s schools without creating a new city.”

“We share the concern over quality of education in East Baton Rouge, which is why BRAF has supported reforms and created a new nonprofit to provide financial support and to recruit the best charter operator to take over failed EBR schools,” said John G. Davies, BRAF President and CEO. “We also agree with Dr. Jim Richardson’s analysis that forming a new city would scramble public finances, impacting public services and safety for both municipalities.”

“The proposed incorporation would have detrimental impacts for all of the residents of our parish, including those who would be in the newly formed city,” said Mayor-President Melvin L. "Kip" Holden. “Our goal is to keep our communities together and we are committed to working collaboratively on a solution that will keep our parish whole and vibrant.”

About Baton Rouge General Medical Center

Baton Rouge General Medical Center is a full-service community hospital, with 527 licensed beds between two campuses. As the first hospital in Baton Rouge, opening its doors in 1900, Baton Rouge General has a long history of groundbreaking milestones, as well as providing the Greater Baton Rouge community with high quality healthcare for generations. From our birth center to senior services, and state-of-the-art heart and cancer care, Baton Rouge General provides care for the whole family at every age and every stage of life.

Baton Rouge General is affiliated with and also serves as a satellite campus of Tulane University School of Medicine. In addition to serving as a satellite campus for Tulane medical students in the LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Discovery) Academy program, Baton Rouge General also offers a Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, School of Nursing and School of Radiologic Technology. Baton Rouge General, an accredited teaching hospital since 1991, is committed to exceptional medical education and serves a diverse population that is representative of the types of patients, injuries, illnesses and healthcare needs most frequently seen by physicians in private practice. For more information, visit BRGeneral.org, find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/BatonRougeGeneral and follow us on Twitter at @BRGeneral.

Categories: In the Community