Concord Estates to vote on parcel fee for crime prevention

On May 4, voters in the Concord Estates subdivision in south Baton Rouge will decide whether to renew a parcel fee for a crime prevention district that some residents say is working.

Early voting for the May 4 election begins Saturday.

The measure would continue the annual levy of a $69.50 parcel fee for each lot or tract in the neighborhood for four years beginning in 2014.

The money supplements the subdivision’s law enforcement presence funding the hiring of off-duty law enforcement for patrols.

The fees are expected to generate more than $20,000 in 2014.

Voting on May 4 will be at the Cenikor Foundation, 2114 Bunker Hill Drive, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

East Baton Rouge Parish Assessor Brian Wilson said the fee is not covered by the Louisiana Homestead Exemption because it is not a property tax.

Gideon Carter, a former member of the district’s board of commissioners, said the neighborhood has a low crime rate, but the district acts as a safeguard against any increase in that rate.

“Anytime there is crime in the neighborhood, we kind of get on top of it before anything expands,” Carter said.

He said the fact the fee passed in previous elections — it’s been renewed once before — shows that residents are happy with the crime prevention district.

Metro Councilman John Delgado, whose district includes Concord Estates, said he has not been contacted by anyone in the homeowners association about the fee renewal, but he said he does have some philosophical concerns about crime prevention districts.

“There should be one crime prevention district and it should be the city-parish of East Baton Rouge,” he said. “Aren’t we supposed to be getting police protection when we pay taxes in the first place?”

Jonathan Thomas, 40, has lived on Germantown Drive for about 13 years and said crime is not a big problem in the community.

He said the worst thing he’s seen in the area, besides a body found in the neighborhood one or two years ago, is people who have been drinking and get lost in the area after leaving nearby clubs and bars.

Ruth Rees, 72, has lived on Yorktown Drive since 1970. She said the crime district is working to keep the crime rate low in the neighborhood.

“You’ve got your crime areas, but this isn’t one of them,” she said.