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Caught in the Crossfire

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Great article from Dig Baton Rouge on St. George Fire Department. The issues that plague or community reach beyond schools. We look forward to putting St. George, Louisiana on a ballot in November of this year. It's time we take our destiny into our own hands.

Politics and opinions aside, the St. George Fire District is facing uncertainty and anxiety as the movement to incorporate the city of St. George pushes on.

While the Department has attempted to remain as neutral as possible on the issue, Chief Gerard Tarleton is finding that to be an increasingly difficult task. Before his interview with Dig, Tarleton made it a point that he isn’t taking a position on the St. George issue and that his only concern is fulfilling his duties as Fire Chief.

“I want to be careful with what I say because I don’t want to inflame the administration – that isn’t what I want to do, but I can’t seem to convince them of that,” he said. “I guess everyone has their agenda – mine is to run this fire department the best way I can.”

That being said, public safety has been brought to the foreground of this argument by the administration – namely who will pay for it and where will they serve. Tarleton’s biggest issue with this argument is that it doesn’t even concern his district, only the city of Baton Rouge.

“If you read the discussions going on in the media, like the Advocate, they talk about how this will affect police and fire, but they’re only worried about it in the city,” said Tarleton. “They don’t want to discuss this issue as a parish. St. George is one of nine fire districts in the unincorporated areas of East Baton Rouge Parish – apparently some people don’t worry about that. We’re alone.”

These fire districts in the unincorporated parts of the parish, including St. George, operate independent of any funding from the city-parish. St. George earns revenue through a $14 million property tax within the district, though that amount could drop if the area is incorporated into a city.

Read the remainder of the story from Dig Magazine here