Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said Tuesday she and her senior advisers are exploring all options East Baton Rouge Parish has in a possible challenge to the pending incorporation of the city of St. George.
A letter Broome sent Tuesday to the St. George organizers hints at what's likely to become a face-off between St. George and the city-parish, with the mayor-president pressuring organizers for concrete plans regarding the incorporation.
"You have indicated in press reports that St. George may want to 'dump' certain contracts or agreements currently in effect and renegotiate your own," Broome wrote to Drew Murrell, an attorney and spokesman for the St. George organizers. "Please let me know, before our meeting, which contracts you are referring to … and which aspects of those agreements you do not want and would change."
Murrell said Tuesday: "We will be providing the information President Broome requested shortly. This is the beginning of creating St. George, and we look forward to working with President Broome during this process.”
Broome and her administration were set to meet with St. George leaders on Friday to begin negotiations over the transition to forming the separate city government for St. George, but in her letter, Broome says that meeting will have to be Oct. 23 due to a scheduling conflict.
"This will give you more time to provide us with the questions and information you need as well as giving us more time to prepare the answers and gather documents requested," Broome wrote.
After Murrell said earlier this week St. George would likely privatize planning and zoning once incorporated, Broome asked him what information, if any, St. George organizers need from the city-parish to better develop their plans.
Broome asked the St. George organizers to get the information she requested to the city-parish by close of business Monday.
In a separate statement, Broome reiterated that she and her team intend to do whatever is in "the best interest of everyone" in regard to the incorporation.
"After evaluation of the referendum surrounding the incorporation of the city of St. George, I have met with senior advisers and legal counsel to discuss (Revised Statute) 33:4 of state law, as we explore all options," her statement says.
R.S. 33:4 outlines how an incorporation effort can be challenged in court.
Election results Saturday show that 59%, or 32,293 people, of the more than 54,000 registered voters living in the St. George area cast ballots in the incorporation election to create the parish's fifth municipality. The incorporation was approved by 54% of those voters, or 17,422 people.
The proposed city of St. George took a large step toward incorporation with Saturday's election, and a breakdown of select precincts show a cl…
St. George is set to become one of the largest cities in the state, with a population of more than 86,000.
But first, the Secretary of State's Office must verify the election results, then the chairman of the St. George committee must publish those results, followed by the governor appointing a mayor and five-member council.
Meanwhile, officials with One Baton Rouge, one of several opposition groups that tried to stop St. George from happening, said Tuesday they've received a flurry of requests from property owners and businesses for help to get annexed into Baton Rouge city limits before the St. George incorporation takes place.
M.E. Cormier, a leader with One Baton Rouge, said most of those requests have come from the neighborhoods and areas where the incorporation proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by voters. Many of those neighborhoods share boundaries with Baton Rouge, making those areas eligible for annexation.
"They just need to have a simple majority of residents in a neighborhood sign a petition asking to be annexed into the city," Cormier said. "For individual properties that are adjacent to any city limits, only the property owner's signature is needed on the annexation request."
Until the St. George incorporation is finalized, property owners and businesses seeking to join Baton Rouge have to submit annexation requests only to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council for approval. But once the incorporation had happened, property owners would have to go through a two-step process to first be deannexed from St. George and then petition for annexation into Baton Rouge.
Less than two days after voters in the southeastern corner of East Baton Rouge voted to create the new city of St. George, discussions in some…
But if legal challenges occur, there's no telling how long the St. George incorporation could be delayed.
"The annexation process currently remains unchanged," Cormier said. "We've already identified requests from eight eligible neighborhoods."