Metro Councilman Says Central Having ‘Hard Time’

Metro Councilman Says Central Having ‘Hard Time’

City Responds to Boé

Barrow Says Boé Statements False, Points to Surplus, Accomplishments

by Woody Jenkins, Editor

CENTRAL — When Metro Councilman Joel Boé gave an interview to the Baton Rouge Advocate Monday stating his opposition to the incorporation of the proposed new City of Southeast Baton Rouge, he probably didn’t think his remarks would set off a round of controversy in the City of Central.  But they certainly did.  Boé was quoted by the Advocate as saying, “Central is still, I wouldn’t say struggling, but they’re having a hard time from the public works standpoint, and a police and fire standpoint.”  That comment set off Central City Hall.  Reportedly, it provoked a call from Central Mayor Mac Watts to Boé asking for an explanation.  Boé reportedly said his remarks were taken out of context.  But the two-term Metro Councilman who represents South Baton Rouge has not issued a retraction.
The general response from ordinary citizens of Central to his remarks was, “What is he talking about?”  Residents of Central simply don’t seem to be aware of the city’s having a “hard time” when it comes to public works, police protection, or fire protection.
Meanwhile, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, David Barrow, fired back at Boé with a letter detailing the success of the city and saying the councilman had made a false statement about Central.
Barrow’s letter read as follows:
“I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a completely inaccurate statement made by EBR Metro Council District 9 councilman Joel Boé in the article titled, ‘New City Sought for School District,’ which appeared in The Advocate on June 24, 2013. In the article, Mr. Boé stated that creating a new city in the southeastern part of the parish is ‘a step in the wrong direction’ and used the City of Central in a statement in an attempt to prove his point by saying, ‘Central is still, I wouldn’t say struggling, but they’re having a hard time from a public works standpoint, and a police and fire standpoint.’”
“I would recommend that Mr. Boé check some facts before making such a statement in the future.  The City of Central was incorporated in 2005, and officially separated from the EBR parish government in March of 2008.”
“Since then, each year, the city has maintained a healthy budget surplus. For the fiscal year 2010-11, the city ended up with a $1.3 million surplus (20 percent of revenues). In the 2011-12 fiscal year, a surplus of $2.1 million was recorded (32 percent of revenues); and in the 2012-13 fiscal year, a surplus of $1.7 million is expected (25 percent of revenues).”
“I would hardly call that having a hard time.  For the upcoming 2013-14 fiscal year starting July 1, a 22 percent budget surplus is expected. These healthy surpluses are due to prudent financial practices, non-wasteful spending, and privatization of most services, including public works. Copies of our budget and audit reports are available on our website,”
“Our public works division maintains an excellent work record, and we are certainly not having a hard time”
“For example, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012, our public works department received a total of 2,126 work requests. At the end of that fiscal year, 96 percent of those work requests had been completed. So far this fiscal year from July 1, 2012 through May 31, 2013, a total of 1,537 public works requests have been made, and 96 percent have been completed. Additionally, all of the remaining requests from the 2011-2012 fiscal year have been resolved”
“Most of our public works requests are resolved within 30 days. Copies of our monthly public works reports are available at our Municipal Service Center upon a public records request. We attribute the high completion rate to our privatizing the Public Works Department to IBTS, which is doing an excellent job.”
“Additionally, the City of Central was able to fund two major street rehabilitation projects in the last three years, costing approximately $2 million to improve our streets. We also paid almost $1.5 million in engineering costs to design the widening of Sullivan Road from Wax to Hooper, a project which was on the City-Parish Green Light Program but was not considered to be a priority for the City-Parish administration, even though over 22,000 vehicles per day travel that two-lane section and is a major corridor from Livingston Parish into EBR Parish.”
“As for the fire department standpoint, fire coverage for the City of Central is handled through the Central Fire Protection District, Chaneyville Fire District, and Pride Fire District. The Central Fire Protection District handles the majority of Central.”
“These three districts were in existence before Central was incorporated, and nothing has changed. They continue to provide excellent service to our citizens through their respective districts. The City of Central is not responsible for providing fire protection services.”
“Law enforcement in Central is handled by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office and Central Police Department. The Sheriff’s Office provides excellent coverage and protection for our citizens, and the growing Central Police Department is taking on more responsibilities, particularly in the area of traffic enforcement. Central is considered one of the safest areas of EBR Parish.”
“Therefore, Mr. Boé, before making such statements in the future, I would suggest that you gather factual information to distribute to the public rather than making false statements.”
While Boé has not issued a retraction, Barrow said he is hoping The Advocate will run his response as a Letter to the Editor.
This is not the first time Councilman Boé has created controversy in Central.  When the first CATS tax was proposed, he offered the amendment to put the City of Central in the taxing district over the objection of Metro Councilman Scott Wilson, who represents Central.  The CATS tax went to the voters with Central in the taxing district, and Central voted overwhelmingly against it, providing much of the margin of defeat.  When the CATS tax was proposed the second time in April 2012, Mr. Boé did not object to Central’s being removed from the taxing district.

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