Hammond vs. Central: Cities Created Two Centuries Apart

Hammond vs. Central: Cities Created Two Centuries Apart


Widely Different Concepts of What Constitutes a City

by Woody Jenkins, Editor

SOUTHEAST — As the residents of Southeast Baton Rouge weigh the pros and cons of incorporation, it is important to note that the concept of what constitutes a “municipality” or a “city” can mean very different things, depending on how and when it is created.
Two municipalities of similar size in the Florida Parishes of Louisiana illustrate how extreme those differences can be.
One was created in the 19th century and the other in the 21st century.  One is a traditional city like most of the rest in Louisiana.  The other is completely privatized, meaning that the day-to-day functions of government are contracted out to a private company.
The City of Hammond, population 20,000, is a well-run and attractive city 40 miles east of Baton Rouge.  It has a city budget of more than $30 million and more than 300 city employees.  Like most cities, it sometimes struggles to avoid a deficit.
The City of Central, population 27,000, was incorporated in 2005.  It has revenue of about $6.3 million and runs a surplus of more than $1 million a year.  It has $6 million in the bank.  The city has three employees and is completely privatized.  It contracts with a non-profit organization, IBTS, to provide virtually all city services.
Hammond has its own police and fire department.  Central was already served by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office and the Central Fire District, both of which have their own taxing districts.  After Central was incorporated, they continued to provide the same services as before.  The City of Central primarily provides planning and zoning functions, issues permits, and maintains streets in residential subdivisions.
Hammond has its own Plan of Government. Central operates under the Lawrason Act, which applies to all Louisiana municipalities that have not adopted their own Plan of Government.
The City of Central has not raised taxes or imposed new taxes.


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