GONZALES — Voters in Gonzales on Saturday will decide whether to renew a 10-year, 3.27-mill property tax that was first passed in 1986 to fund the city’s Fire Department.
With two fire stations and an ambulance service that transports Gonzales residents to the hospital at no charge, the Fire Department has earned a Class 2 fire insurance rating that helps keep commercial and residential insurance rates down, Fire Chief Tracey Normand said.
The best fire insurance rating a fire department can get is Class 1 and the lowest is Class 10. The better rating means a homeowners insurance premium will likely be less.
Normand, who became fire chief in 2008 and has been with the Fire Department since 2002, said voters overwhelmingly approved 10-year renewals of the millage in 1995 and 2005.
The millage pays for firefighters’ and Emergency Medical Service’s equipment, maintenance of the fire stations and training, Normand said.
Operations of the department are funded by a half-cent sales tax in the city that goes to the police, fire and sanitation departments.
The Fire Department has 24 paid firefighters, and the two fire stations are manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Normand said.
Chief Deputy Assessor Justin Champlin, of the Ascension Parish Assessors’ Office, said the millage costs homeowners about $49 annually for a $150,000 home in Gonzales, and for a $250,000 home, the millage is about $81 per year.
“That goes to the Fire Department and the EMS, so you get a lot of bang for your buck,” Champlin said of city residents.