Early voting starts Saturday for East Side Fire district millage renewal

Voters in East Side Fire Protection District No. 5, an 8-square-mile region of nearly 20,000 residents in the eastern part of the parish, will decide whether to renew a 7.5-mill property tax that provides about a third of the department’s operating revenue.

The tax renewal proposal is on the ballot for the May 3 election, and early voting begins Saturday.

“We need to pass that renewal to keep our staffing levels,” which includes 14 full-time firefighters and contracted workers as needed, said Dale Hancock, East Side fire chief.

The East Side district includes areas north and south of Interstate 12, including portions of Florida Boulevard near the Amite River, O’Neal Lane and Millerville Road north of Interstate 12. The Fire Department has two stations: Station 91 at 15094 Old Hammond Highway and Station 92 at 17505 South Harrell’s Ferry Road.

The tax renewal would generate about $635,000 for the fire district from 2015 to 2024.

“We provide the level of service that our customers want,” Hancock said. “And right now, we’re in the sweet spot.”

The money would cover expenses for equipping and training firefighters. It also would pay for operation and maintenance costs for the district’s two fire stations and training facility.

Hancock said the district’s firefighters work about 30 structure fires a year. East Side responds to structure fire reports in Central, District 6 and parts of St. George in addition to those in its own district, Hancock said.

“It’s a simple renewal,” he said of the tax proposal on the upcoming ballot.

East Side Fire District has a Class 2 insurance rating out of 10, the same as District 6 and St. George.

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