Broadmoor and Jefferson Place-Bocage civic groups are gearing up to ask for residents’ approval of a property fee to fund crime districts in their neighborhoods.
If all goes according to plan, the parcel fee propositions will be on the Nov. 19 general election ballot, said presidents of the neighborhood groups.
The state Legislature gave the go-ahead for the districts, as neighborhoods sought a steady revenue stream to fund security and improvement projects.
Meanwhile, efforts to create crime districts in Spanish Town and Glen Oaks did not get off the ground after sponsoring lawmakers opted to pull the plug.
The Historic Spanish Town Civic Association board had unanimously backed the district’s creation.
But state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey said she decided not to pursue the legislation after resident opposition surfaced.
“I don’t want to be in the middle of a Spanish Town fight,” said Dorsey, D-Baton Rouge.
Formation of the Glen Oaks district needed more research and input from the various civic associations in the area, state Rep. Regina Barrow said.
“The area is so big geographically. I just didn’t want to haphazardly do it,” said Barrow, D-Baton Rouge.
Broadmoor and Jefferson Place-Bocage are the latest additions to a growing number of subdivisions creating crime prevention and improvement districts. There’s about a dozen in the parish.
The crime districts are allowed to levy parcel fees with the approval of neighborhood residents. The fees — which vary neighborhood by neighborhood — are billed and collected with property taxes.
The Broadmoor district was created last year, but because of a glitch in the law, it had to be resubmitted for legislative approval.
Broadmoor Homeowners’ Association President Gary Littlefield said that out of about 2,000 homes in the subdivision, less than 30 percent of homeowners have been paying “voluntary dues.”
With resident approval, a $100 per parcel fee would be collected, he said.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to improve our neighborhood,” Littlefield said.
Jefferson Place-Bocage Property Association President Neil Buckingham said efforts already have begun toward appointment of the crime district board so that the next legal steps can be undertaken to get the parcel fee proposition on the ballot.
Buckingham said a meeting also will be held soon with neighborhood residents.
“We are trying to get this up and going,” said Buckingham. “We are shooting for the November ballot.”
The Jefferson Place-Bocage association charges a $540 annual fee that goes to pay for security and improvements, but some people don’t pay, Buckingham said.
The new parcel fee would be less, $500, but all property owners would have to pay, he said.
“All the neighborhoods will benefit,” Buckingham said.
Spanish Town President Jeff Duhé said the association there is disappointed about the derailing of efforts to create a crime prevention district.
“The neighborhood was largely for it. The neighborhood association was for it,” said Duhé. “One resident was against it, and it was a politically connected resident. So now, nobody gets to decide whether it’s a good idea or not.”
He added, “I’m pretty livid. All we were asking for was the opportunity to vote on it.”
Duhé said someone circulated a petition which erroneously said that each resident would have to pay a $200 fee. “The lie is going to hurt the security of the neighborhood,” Duhé said.
The district could have sought up to a $200 parcel fee per residential property owner, and up to $2,000 per commercial owner.
Dorsey said she offered the legislation because she was told there was a consensus of support, “and everybody wanted it in the community.”
“Everybody didn’t want it,” Dorsey said, mentioning a petition she received from residents as well as email opposition.
“I will gladly do it if there’s some consensus,” she said. “I don’t think I should have been the one to take sides. I was elected to represent all of them.”
Dorsey said she was successful in getting Capitol Police security patrols to monitor the area and worked with the Downtown Development District to get additional extra protection.
“They do have those two layers of protection until there is consensus,” she said.