Tara, Villa del Rey crime prevention districts advance

A state House panel on Thursday endorsed creation of neighborhood crime prevention districts in the Tara and Villa del Rey subdivisions in Baton Rouge.

The action by the Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee sends the measures to the Louisiana House floor for further action.

Legislators have routinely approved the crime prevention and neighborhood enhancement districts for the last 15 years.

The districts are allowed, with approval of voters in the subdivisions, to collect a parcel fee. The fees fund security patrols and other crime fighting initiatives as well as neighborhood beautification efforts.

Under House Bill 289, sponsored by state Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge, the initial proposed parcel fee would be $100, but the fee could increase 10 percent a year to a maximum $200 a year.

Ponti said neighborhood residents feel the need for additional police patrols in the area. “They are following the lead of others in the past,” he said.

House Bill 1010, sponsored by state Rep. Alfred Williams, D-Baton Rouge, would permit a $250 annual parcel fee.

“I have worked with them through the last two years to make sure that constituents in that area are in support of it,” said Williams. “It is the largest precinct in my district and I need to make sure I take care of them.”

The panel also approved House Bill 173 by state Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, which he said “cleans up” legislation approved last year creating a crime prevention district in Sherwood Forest. Voters have already approved the parcel fee and the change he said is designed “to improve collection of the fees.”