When East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome urged the Legislature to allow all voters in East Baton Rouge to vote on the proposed St. George breakaway city, instead of those only in the proposed new city’s boundaries, we were concerned that this gave the impression of moving the goal posts after the long-argued discussions before an Oct. 12 referendum.
But Broome isn’t the only actor in the Legislature trying to manipulate the process. Legislation to minimize the potential exposure of the new municipality to long-standing tax obligations is advancing, and passed in the Senate and in House committee. The votes were along racial lines, with white members apparently trying to give a leg up to St. George advocates.
A specific amendment to the legislation by state Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, appears to relieve the new city, if created, of paying some long-lasting bond costs related to buying the new public safety buildings on Airline Highway.
The new city will have substantial costs. Those costs cannot exclude legitimate obligations for services and bond payments that benefited St. George residents before any new city is created. The legislation, as amended on bond payments, seems intended to make a financially difficult deal look more attractive to voters in the short term.