Three types of taxes for East Baton Rouge Parish fire departments — including one increase and two renewals — will appear on the ballots of some residents for the Nov. 21 election.
The Brownsfield Fire Protection District is asking voters to approve a new, 10-mill tax. Fire Protection Districts 6 and District 1 are requesting property tax and service fee renewals.
Officials with all three say that the money generated from the taxes is essential for firefighting operations to continue and improve within their districts.
The Brownsfield Fire Protection District, which covers some of the northern parts of the parish between Blount Road to the Comite River, is hoping that the additional 10-mill tax would generate an extra $200,000 a year for the department, which currently has yearly budget of $750,000.
Chief Carroll Campbell said the department needs to either build a new station or move one of its stations to maintain its Class 3 rating.
Class 3 is the third-highest rating a fire department can receive, and those ratings factor into the cost of homeowner’s insurance. Good ratings usually mean lower insurance costs.
“We have to get manpower, and we have to get a station and we’ve got a truck we need to replace,” Campbell said.
The Brownsfield Fire Protection District already collects 25 mills a year in property taxes, as well as a $32 service fee per homeowner. The new tax would be in place for 10 years.
Campbell said the additional 10 mills sounds like a lot, but it does not go a long way for the small fire district.
“Our community has always been good about this and I just don’t want to overwhelm them with thinking they have to pay through the nose for that millage,” he said.
A person living in the Brownsfield Fire Protection District with a $140,000 home — on the higher end of property values in the area — who takes a homestead exemption pays $162.50 a year plus the service fee for the Fire Department. The 10 mills increase would bring the property tax bill to $227.50, plus the service fee.
Fire Protection District 6, which falls in-between Baton Rouge and Central’s city limits and primarily covers Glen Oaks, is asking to renew a 5-mill property tax. The tax is only part of the fire district’s property tax base that makes up its budget of about $1.5 million.
The 5 mills renewal is expected to generate about $130,000 a year for the next nine years. Fire Chief Joel Hancock said the money will mostly go toward operations and maintenance, particularly servicing fire hydrants.
Fire Protection District 6 currently collects 40 mills in property taxes, plus a $32 service fee per door. Hancock said he does not expect the tax renewal to be controversial.
“We renew taxes, this is nothing new. It’s a tax that’s been on the books since I’ve been fire chief,” Hancock said.
A person living in District 6 with a $150,000 home that receives the homestead exemption pays $300 a year in fire taxes. Renewing the 5-mill tax would keep the bill at the same rate as long as property values do not change.
Fire Protection District 1, which covers the unincorporated areas of East Baton Rouge that surround Zachary, is looking for voters to renew its $32 service fee.
The Zachary Fire Department provides the coverage and manpower for the areas in District 1, and the district itself only has a board.
“We do provide the same service for outside the city as we do for inside,” said Zachary Fire Chief Danny Kimble. “The Zachary Fire Department does not see a boundary line in providing service for District 1.”
If approved, the $32 service fee would be renewed for 10 years, generating between $50,000 and $60,000 a year for the district. The district also has a 9-mill property tax, which helps make up its total budget of about $350,000 a year.
Kimble said voters have supported the fee renewals in the past.