I am convinced that the creation of St. George would be a terrible mistake. Passing it would result in an extraordinary number of uncertainties, years of wasteful litigation, budget problems for the parish and for St. George that would take years to undo, and tax increases all around.
For one, who will lead this new city? Elections will have to be held for a mayor, police chief and positions required under the Louisiana Constitution. In turn, the city would have to stand up another bureaucracy to govern 80,000 people, wasting precious resources on administrators instead of investments in infrastructure and services. What’s more, a capable leadership will not spring from the earth, but will require many generations of seasoning and experience.
The proponents of St. George say they won’t need many people to operate their city. They wish for privatization instead, and they hold the city of Sandy Springs, Georgia, as their model. In 2017, Sandy Springs spent $1,907 per capita on operations. St. George, meanwhile, has budgeted only $394 per person. A gap so wide will certainly require new taxes to operate St. George, which will be an unnecessary burden on people with fixed incomes, many retired, and the already-stretched middle class.
With a new St. George, tens of thousands of students will be uprooted, retirement accounts would be endangered, and arguments over public finances will hold us all back for generations.
St. George is a proposal that’s a bad dream in the making. We must let it pass us by.
John B. Noland