Richard Lipsey is behind the various groups (Put Louisiana First, Louisiana First Republicans PAC, NoCityOfStGeorge) who have been recently flooding mailboxes of residents of the proposed City of St. George with anti-St. George propaganda, misleading information, and outright lies. It’s time to call these groups out for their blatantly false claims.
Lipsey Lie #1: Your police protection will be affected in a negative way if St. George passes.
TRUTH: Nothing could be further from the truth. Law enforcement will continue to be provided by the EBR Parish Sheriff's Office. If anything, law enforcement will improve with the planned addition of $4.0 million in funding from the proposed City of St. George budget. As a matter of fact, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux stated “If the residents voted to incorporate the area as a city, then I would continue to provide those same services.” (click here to read his full statement)
Lipsey Lie #2: St. George claims $4 million to provide police projection for city of 86,000.
TRUTH: From the St. George website…"expenditures are budgeted at $33.9 million, including $4.0 million of discretionary additional police expenditures." St. George organizers have never said that the cost of police protection from the EBR Sheriff's Office will ONLY cost $4.0 million. In fact, your property taxes generate in excess of $19 million that pays for the Sheriff’s protection. Residents currently living within the boundary of the proposed City of St. George already pay for law enforcement from the EBR Sheriff's office as part of three parish wide property taxes ( Special Law Enforcement, Additional Special Law Enforcement 2, & Additional Special Law Enforcement 3). This WILL NOT CHANGE if the City of St. George ballot passes.
Lipsey Lie #3: Narcotics, Accidents, Detective, Jailing, Warrants services for residents in the boundary of the proposed City of St. George are provided by Baton Rouge.
TRUTH: The City of Baton Rouge does not currently provide these services to residents in the boundary of the proposed City of St. George. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office provides these services - Click here to see the many services the Sheriff's office provides. Sheriff Gautreaux stated, "If the residents voted to incorporate the area as a city, then I would continue to provide those same services.” (click here to read his full statement)
Lipsey Lie #4: The Sheriff has not agreed to provide police protection for the $4 million budgeted by "St. George".
TRUTH: St. George has NOT requested that the Sheriff provide the services his office already provides for ONLY $4 million dollars. See the answer to Lipsey Lie # 2 above.
Lipsey Lie #5: Your cost for services such as sewer and drainage are uncertain and would have to be negotiated between the new city and EBR Parish Government.
TRUTH: The sewage district boundary is a separate entity, and does not impact the budget for the proposed City of St. George. You do not pay taxes for sewer and drainage - these are considered fee based, and you pay them every month on your utility payment bill that includes water, sewage, and garbage. This is not part of your annual property tax bill. In fact, the cost of the sewer system skyrocketed as a result of poor oversight and management by East Baton Rouge Parish.
Lipsey Lie #6: There is no transition plan.
TRUTH: The City of St. George organizers worked with the Louisiana Legislature to pass transition district bill legislation in the spring of 2019. Governor John Bel Edwards vetoed this bill at the urging of Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome. "Edwards called the bill unnecessary because the election hasn't been held yet." (read Advocate news article here) We call this planning ahead. Apparently our City Parish government and our Governor don't believe in planning ahead. St. George has a transition plan to launch our city on January 1, 2020.
Lipsey Lie #7: St. George will need to have new taxes to pay for these new expenses:
o New St. George City Hall
o Mayor of St. George
o St. George Police Chief
o St. George City Council
o St. George City employees
o Additional startup costs
o Continual operating expenses
TRUTH: All of these items listed above are included in our budget - No new taxes will be required. The City of St. George will have less than 10 employees, with the balance of workers and services provided by private contractors with no ongoing pension costs liabilities. Meanwhile, the City-Parish employs nearly 4,500 employees with annual pension contributions consuming nearly $110 million of their $926 million operating budget. We are not building a city hall. It will be an existing building that is rented. By privatizing any city services, your tax dollars will not be wasted on pensions, equipment, and maintenance. Instead, private businesses will provides the services and you will get better services for less money.
Lipsey Lie #8: St. George will have a $12.6 million deficit in just the first year according to independent LSU economist’s study.
TRUTH: Apparently the opposition cannot even read the Richardson / Llorens report correctly. Their report forecasts a deficit of $3.3 million as of 9/26/2018. We of course dispute the Richardson / Llorens report and forecast a budget surplus of $14.4 million. In addition, sales tax collections are up in St. George 2.5% this year which will result in additional revenue for the city.
Lipsey Lie #9: Louisiana law prohibits the Sheriff from providing gratuitous services to a city.
TRUTH: The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s office does not currently provide, nor will it provide in the future, gratuitous services to the residents of the area considered for incorporation as the City of St. George. Why the opposition thinks that the services that the EBR Sheriff’s office will provide to the City of St. George will be considered gratuitous is beyond our comprehension. Bueller? Anyone?