Two tax renewals up for Brownsfield Fire District 3

Voters served by firefighters from Brownsfield Fire District No. 3 will decide Oct. 19 whether to renew two 10-year property taxes that directly fund the fire department north of Baton Rouge.

Residential property owners in the district already pay both 10-mill taxes.

If voters defeat the propositions, Fire Chief Carroll Campbell said, the defeat would cripple the Fire Department, which relies heavily on the tax revenue to pay its four full-time employees and more than a dozen part-time and contract employees who maintain two fire stations.

Campbell said that if the tax renewals fail, the department would likely revert to a volunteer department, and certainly shed its Class 3 insurance rating, a designation it earned only three years ago.

Insurance premium costs are tied to the ratings, which range from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best.

Fire officials estimate if the property tax renewals pass, the department would collect about $210,000 in the first year of each tax, which could increase in subsequent years if property values rise.

The taxes would renew in 2014 and 2015 and run through 2023 and 2024, respectively.

A 10-mill tax costs homeowners about $75 a year for a home with an estimated value of $150,000, or $175 for a home valued at $250,000.

The fire district property tax is subject to the Louisiana Homestead Exemption Act, said East Baton Rouge Parish Assessor Brian Wilson. The exemption deducts $7,500 from the assessed taxable value of the home, significantly reducing the tax burden for many homeowners. By state law, a home is assessed at 10 percent of its market-estimated value.

“If it passes, we’re in good shape,” Campbell said. “For the amount of people that we have, and the equipment that we have, our budget is sufficient.”

Early voting is Oct. 5-12, excluding Oct. 6.