Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Survey Shows Majority of Residents Satisfied with BREC Services, Weren’t Consulted About Breakaway Bill

Before filing a bill to take resources from BREC and create additional park systems, the authors of Senate Bill 205 largely neglected to consult with voters who approved the property taxes that fund the parish-wide agency and its 10-year strategic plan to determine whether they support such a drastic change. Since BREC’s model is based on using public input to guide major decisions regarding the make-up of the parish’s park system, the agency quickly commissioned a statistically scientific survey to gauge community support for the idea.

The survey, conducted by Percy and Company, used a combination of face-to-face interviews and digital polling to collect input from 426 registered voters across East Baton Rouge Parish, with oversampling in the areas mentioned by the bill. Concurrent to these efforts, Percy and Company partnered with Feigley Communications to conduct an online opt-in survey via social media for residents who wanted to provide their input, generating an additional 802 responses from parish residents.

Approximately two-thirds of those surveyed rate BREC as good or excellent, with only 8.7% giving BREC a negative rating. Results were also similar when respondents were asked if they were satisfied with BREC’s recreational services, with only 5.1% giving a negative rating.

When asked their opinion on the bill to split BREC into smaller, individual park systems, 56% of those surveyed had not heard about the bill and were undecided with another 21% opposing the idea. The social media sample was even higher, with 48.5% in opposition.

“Having received input now from more than 1,200 residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, only 14 said they had been asked about the proposal, going against everything BREC stands for when it comes to seeking public input before making decisions that would significantly alter the park system that is funded by these same taxpayers,” said BREC Superintendent Corey K. Wilson. “We are deeply disappointed in the lack of transparency regarding this bill and disturbed that it was filed without notice to anyone at BREC or the taxpayers who ultimately determine how parks in East Baton Rouge Parish should be funded, constructed and operated. Additionally, there has not been a detailed plan put forward to explain how these new systems would be operated like what BREC provides to the public when our millages are up for a vote, as well as each time we begin a construction project,” said Wilson.

At each appearance at the legislature, the author and supporters of the bill have continued to make misleading or false statements to lawmakers voting on the bill. BREC is clarifying these statements with fact-based responses here:

Senate Bill 205 has passed through the Senate and will be heard by the Municipal, Local and Cultural Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives. Residents can track the bill and find contact information to voice their opinion about it here:

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