Diversity in population make little difference in the need for renewal of the parish fire protection millages, according to two Pointe Coupee Parish fire chiefs.
Voters throughout Pointe Coupee Parish will decide in the election Saturday, Oct. 12 on a proposal to renew 10-year millages that ensure fire protection from their respective district departments.
Fire chiefs on opposite ends of the parish both stress the need for the millage to provide the same services – and they hate to think what would happen if voters rejected the renewals.
In Batchelor, Chief Cary Manuel oversees a very small department in a rural area, where many calls involve paramedic personnel.
“In our area, it’s the quickest means of response,” he said. “Without the millage, we could not afford the equipment to continue to maintain the service … it would affect us drastically.”
Response time is usually within 10 minutes for the department.
It’s the same scenario for Fire District 5 in the New Roads area. A combination of steady traffic along the highways and a population increase make the millage renewal a critical priority.
“I hate to imagine what would happen if we’d lose it,” he said. “We’ve had more fires in recent years, largely because our population is aging, but we also have a lot of traffic along these byways. It would hurt us severely.”
The millages are all renewals of funding plans previously approved by voters, but fire chiefs do not take voter approval for granted.
“You can’t do that these days,” Manual said. “We tell people all the time what we do in our department, and that it’s far cheaper than seeing your fire insurance premiums go up.”
Residents need to remember the purpose of the millage when they make their decision, Pointe Coupee Parish President Major Thibaut said.
“They’re renewals, and this is a public safety issue,” he said. “The amount we pay in insurance is directly related to every fire district having resources to respond to emergencies and fires, and so forth. At a time when pennies and dollars are tight in every government sector – municipalities, fire districts and so on – it’s important to let them keep what they have.”
The millages cover the maintenance and operation of the district’s facilities, purchase of fire trucks and other fire department equipment, costs of obtaining water for fire protection purposes, and charges for hydrant rental and services, as well as acquisition, improvement and construction work for facilities in the said district.
Funded fire districts and the equipment in their departments play a factor in the ratings of departments, determined by the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana.
DISTRICT 1—For Fire District 1, centered in Batchelor, voters will be asked to renew a 2.99-mill ad valorem tax that will generate an estimated $287,849 per year. Collection will begin in 2021 and continue through 2030.
DISTRICT 2 – Continuation of the 3.81-mill tax in Fire District 2, centered in Morganza, will funnel $114,834 annually. Voters in Fire District 2 will also asked to continue a special tax of 1.35 mills – $40,689 per year – to cover the costs that involve emergency rescue. Collection will begin in 2021 and continue through 2030.
DISTRICT 3 – In the Ventress area, voters in Fire District 3 will be asked to renew a 2.97-mill tax that will funnel an estimated $213,155 per year for 10 years for facilities, purchasing of trucks and emergency equipment. The other millage is a special millage of 3 mills (an estimated $213,303 annually to cover maintenance of facilities purchase of fire trucks and emergency rescue equipment, along with specialized rescue tools and life-saving equipment. Collection will begin in 2020 and continue through 2029.
DISTRICT 4 – In the Livonia/Fordoche area, voters in District 4 will be asked to renew a 10.91-mill property tax that will bring in an estimated $865,970 for maintenance of the fire protection facilities, purchase of trucks and other firefighting and emergency equipment, and other fire rescue expenses. Collection will begin in 2020 and continue through 2029.
DISTRICT 5 – For Fire District 5 in the New Roads area, a 5-mill property tax will pump $1,055,445 into the district for costs related to purchase of trucks, equipment, obtaining water for fire purposes, among costs related to fire protection. Collection will begin in 2021 and continue through 2030.