Millage renewal on May 3 ballot for EBR fire district

Voters in the nearly 17-square-mile Fire Protection District 6 in East Baton Rouge Parish will decide May 3 whether to renew a property tax that helps cover payroll, fire hydrant rental fees and other district expenses.

Early voting continues through Saturday.

“If they want to continue getting the same service, that’s what it’s going to take, is the renewal,” District 6 Chief Joel Hancock said. “If this doesn’t get renewed, then we have to cut services.”

The 10-mill tax up for renewal brings in more than $264,000 annually.

The renewal would take effect in 2015 and continue through 2024.

About 16,000 people reside in District 6, which is a large northeastern section of the parish within the boundaries of Greenwell Springs Road, Lanier Drive, South Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Joor Road, the Comite River, Hooper Road and Plank Road. The area also includes neighborhoods near Mickens Road and in Glen Oaks.

Hancock said the last time the fire district had a millage on the ballot, about 70 percent of voters supported it. The district is funded by 40 mills total.

The department employs 15 full-time workers and about a half-dozen contract firefighters who work for other departments but fill in for District 6 when its firefighters take vacations or holidays.

Hancock said he could be forced to lay off one or more of the full-time workers if the millage isn’t renewed. He said the department can’t do without some of the things it pays for, such as renting fire hydrants from the city and parish water companies.

Hancock said the department averages about 12 to 15 working house fires a year and responded to roughly 1,600 calls in 2013, including vehicle extractions and first-aid calls.

The fire district has a Class 2 insurance rating out of 10, with 1 being the best.

The Baton Rouge Fire Department has a Class 1 rating. Home insurance premiums are tied to the local district’s class rating.