A measure that would give the go-ahead to New Orleans residents to decide in a future election whether they want to increase the special property taxes to help pay for police and fire protection was ahead is ahead only by the slimmest margin with 2946 of 4018 precincts statewide reporting. Louisiana voters are in favor of Amendment No. 6 50.81 percent to 49.19 percent. The amendments need to pass in both Orleans Parish and statewide to move on to a separate local vote at a later date.

Amendment No. 6 is the first step toward doubling the maximum authorized rate for police and fire protection to 10 mills each. The constitution currently caps the rates for the two taxes at 5 mills each without applying the homestead exemption that covers all other tax millages in New Orleans.

Increasing the taxes would generate an additional $31.6 million for the police and fire departments. The new revenue would have to be used for services that directly contribute to residents’ safety. Both the Mayor’s Office and the firefighters union said they believe it could also be used to strengthen the Fire Department’s pension fund. The city is facing a $17.5 million judgment for underfunding the pension fund in 2012 and may owe another $54 million for three additional years of underfunding as alleged by the fire union.