EMS, fire districts: Roll mills
“As a general rule, we are going to oppose them. But we do have a policy to look at each one individually.” woody Jenkins, East Baton Rouge Republican Party chairman
The Metro Council will hold public hearings July 25 before deciding whether six taxing districts within the parish will be allowed to roll forward property tax millages that otherwise would automatically be reduced after this year’s reassessment.
Millages are automatically rolled back after a reassessment year so that the taxing agencies receive the same amount of money as the year before, despite increases in property values. However, governing authorities can vote to roll the millages forward.
Four fire protection districts, Baton Rouge Emergency Medical Services and Baton Rouge Municipal Fire Salaries and Benefits all have asked the Metro Council to roll their millages forward, according to a news release from the city-parish.
Rolling the millage forward so it remains at 6 mills in the taxing district for Baton Rouge Municipal Fire Salaries and Benefits would mean an additional $436,714 next year for that fund, according to information provided by the city-parish finance department.
Meanwhile, keeping the taxed millage rate for Emergency Medical Services at 3.13 mills would yield EMS an additional $315,109. Rolling forward the tax millages for the four fire protection districts would yield each from $819 to $28,680 in additional revenue.
“It’s extremely important,” EMS Administrator Pam Porter said.
Porter said EMS regularly has ten or 11 of its 12 ambulances responding to calls, leaving only one available. She said she hopes to hire five or six new paramedics with the added money.
The Baton Rouge Municipal Fire Salaries and Benefits fund has an anticipated deficit of more than $380,000 in 2012, according to the city-parish’s budget. Rolling the 6-mill property tax forward would help in covering any deficit next year, according to city-parish finance officials.
The fund is expected to bring in about $10.5 million in 2013, the release says.
The tax applies only to property owners within the Baton Rouge city limits.
“We feel like the people in Baton Rouge support us,” said Curt Monte, president of the Baton Rouge Firefighters Association. “That millage has been a stronghold for cost-of-living increases for firefighters.”
Chief Carroll Campbell of the Brownsfield Fire Protection District said his fire district needs the money to purchase a new truck. Rolling forward will net the district an additional $28,680, according to the city-parish’s news release.
“We have a fire truck at our main station that’s 12 years old,” he said.
Leaders of the East Baton Rouge Republican Party, which has launched a campaign against rolling forward millages, said they had not examined the requested roll forwards yet.
“As a general rule, we are going to oppose them,” party chairman Woody Jenkins said. “But we do have a policy to look at each one individually.”
The council will also hold hearings July 25 on whether to roll forward the 9 mills for Fire Protection District No. 1, which will result in $3,419 in added revenue; and the 10 mills for Pride Fire Protection District No. 8, which will net $5,780 in additional revenue, according to the news release.
Parish reassessments occur every four years when officials reassess the individual value of the property in the parish. Property tax bills, paid at the end of the year, are based on these assessed values.