Two more neighborhoods in East Baton Rouge Parish will decide on Nov. 21 whether to tax their property owners to pay for additional police protection.
The two crime districts, which were created by the state Legislature, are in the northern part of the city in the Forest Heights Park and Southern Heights neighborhoods.
The Forest Heights Park Crime Prevention and Neighborhood Improvement District is asking for property owners to pay $120 per year for 10 years beginning in January.
The parcel fees are estimated to generate some $22,200 in the first year. The district is a small neighborhood sandwiched between Hooper Road and Mickens Road.
The Southern Heights Neighborhood Crime Prevention and Improvement District calls for $100 a year from each property. That amount will increase once after at least five years to an amount not to exceed $150 a year. The tax will last 10 years. It’s estimated to collect $50,000 in the first year.
Southern Heights is just southeast of Southern University.
Both fees will go toward increased neighborhood security, beautification and other improvements.
State Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, sponsored the Forest Heights Park crime prevention district.
She said residents in the neighborhood wanted funds for both beautification and to deter crime amid complaints of burglaries and break-ins.
“Some people may say it’s a double tax, but it’s levied on the people by themselves,” she said. “The beauty is that they get to vote and decide if they are willing to pay to make sure their community feels safe.”
If passed by voters on election day, East Baton Rouge Parish will have 21 districts, which in total will generate more than $1.5 million for all the neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods independently contract with off-duty police officers. Some of them spend the money on surveillance cameras.
Critics of crime districts say it amounts to double taxation because parish residents already pay a variety of taxes that fund law enforcement and that security is a basic necessity and not something that should be purchased by those best able to afford it.