East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council members said Wednesday they want to see justification of the need before approving a request to roll forward property tax millages so some city-parish departments can reap additional tax revenue.
The council’s Finance and Executive committee reviewed the city-parish’s millage rates for 2012, which include six agencies that have requested their millages be rolled forward.
The Baton Rouge Municipal Fire Salaries and Benefits, East Baton Rouge Emergency Medical Services and four fire protection districts were the only taxing districts that requested a roll forward of their millages. The fire districts were Alsen Fire Protection District No. 9, Brownsfield Fire Protection District No. 3, Pride Fire Protection District No. 8 and East Baton Rouge Parish Fire District No. 1.
The roll forward would generate an additional $315,000 for EMS and $437,000 for the salaries and benefits fund. Rolling forward the millages also would generate between $819 and $29,000 in additional tax revenue for the fire districts.
Woody Jenkins, chairman of the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party, spoke against the roll forwards saying that any tax increase should be put to a vote.
“If they really need it, then the people ought to be able to approve it,” he said.
Other city-parish taxing districts such as the Library System and the parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control District have opted not to roll forward their millages. The city-parish’s millages for general operations of the city of Baton Rouge and the parish will also not be rolled forward.
Every four years, after a parish reassessment of property values, if the values increase, millages are automatically rolled back so that taxing agencies receive the same amount of money as the year before.
However, governing authorities can vote to roll the millages forward to the original rate they were approved at, which would allow agencies to collect additional revenue. It means property owners could see a bump on their property tax bills.
The council’s Finance and Executive committee sent the roll forward requests to the full council without a recommendation. The full council will vote on the item Wednesday at its 4 p.m. meeting.
Council members asked staff to send them justification for what the additional revenue would be used for and why it is needed.
Marsha Hanlon, finance director, said some agencies needed the funds for equipment or to help balance budgets.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Walker said he wants to see the justifications, adding that if roll forwards could improve fire departments’ abilities to protect residents then he could support them.
The East Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission’s board recently voted against a roll forward of the parish park system’s tax millage, despite a recommendation to do so by BREC administrators.
The Sheriff’s Office approved a roll forward, which went uncontested by the Republican Party’s “Operation Stop Roll Forward.”
The roll forwards for BREC and the Sheriff’s Office are not subject to Metro Council approval.