Council to take on annexation, parish attorney’s removal and garbage contract

The Baton Rouge Metro Council will take on several controversial items at its meeting this afternoon at 4 p.m. in City Hall.

Here’s a recap of some of the big issues up for a vote:

- Annexing the Mall of Louisiana, Baton Rouge General Medical Center and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center into the City of Baton Rouge. These properties are currently in the proposed city limits of St. George. If the city were to successfully incorporate, then the sales taxes generated from the mall would be diverted from the parish budget to the St. George budget. But if the properties are annexed, then Baton Rouge retains the sales taxes and will collect the mall’s property taxes. St. George Fire Department says they are concerned that the loss of property taxes will hurt their budget. St. George city proponents say they are concerned that changing the boundaries of their city will legally invalidate their petition and cause them to start over.

Firing Parish Attorney Mary Roper. Mary Roper has been the parish attorney to the Metro Council since 2008. The council is considering removing her because she sent an email to her husband with the source codes of an in-house software program that she was in the process of copyrighting. Roper said she was sharing the source codes with her husband, who is a city-parish employee, because she had a question and he has a background in software. She had to send the source codes to the U.S. Copyright office to have the software copyrighted. She contends that the source codes are a public record so nothing was done illegally. Council members question why she would share the source codes with her husband, who is a software entrepreneur and could use them to his advantage. The issue came to light because another employee Kyle Jones was caught trying to sell that software program as his own, and council members have quietly questioned whether Jones and Roper’s husband were working together. If the council votes tonight to initiate the process to remove Roper, she will have a public hearing on May 28 to make her case before a final vote.

Garbage collection contract. For almost 10 years Baton Rouge has contracted with Republic Services of Baton Rouge for garbage collection. The contract ends in 2015, and the mayor’s office and the Department of Public Works asked the Metro Council to sign another contract with the company for another 5 to 10 years, without putting the contract out for competitive bid. Members of the Metro Council are frustrated because they had previously approved a contract with a consultant for almost $50,000 to oversee a bid process to award a new contract. However, the administration and DPW decided to scrap the bid process and award the contract to Republic again because they believe their prices won’t be beat. The contract is valued at $100 million for five years or $200 million for 10 years.

- Rouzan. A measure to rezone Rouzan as Traditional Neighborhood Development will come before the council again. At the last meeting, it passed unanimously, despite opposition from residents in the area. But the council will have to revote on this item because of a mistake in the legal advertisement. This measure is expected to pass again.