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Before a packed house, BRPD Chief Murphy Paul, at lectern, speaks at the Together Baton Rouge meeting at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church located at 3912 Gus Young Avenue Tuesday April 3, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY BILL FEIG

While a controversy has rumbled along between state auditors and the city officials, a vote of the people can settle the issue: Can Baton Rouge continue to collect a small millage for police operations that it has levied since 1958?

We urge voters in the city limits of Baton Rouge to approve the 0.87 mill property tax that goes back 40 years. It was levied for all that time as a constitutionally permitted tax, but the Legislative Auditor's Office questioned its legality without a vote of the people.

With the issue tied up in courts, we urge the citizens to make the argument moot. The $1.7 million of funding could not easily be replaced even in a $93 million annual budget. Early voting is this week and Election Day is April 28.

We see this as a renewal more than a new tax, and we hope that voters will support public safety and see it the same way.

Early voting begins Saturday in Baton Rouge; voters get rare chance to weigh in on police tax