St. George fire district requesting tax increase
BATON ROUGE - The St. George Fire Protection District says they have reached a point where something had to be done to keep their doors open. The district is requesting a 2-mill tax increase for property owners, after decades of losing property to other parts of the parish.
"The annexation for us has been going on for decades," said Fire Chief Gerard Tarleton. "It's not a new thing for St. George Fire Department. As the city grew, our district became smaller with less to tax. Current annexations do not hurt us today, but they will hurt us in the future."
Recently parts of East Baton Rouge Parish have been annexed into the city of Baton Rouge to avoid being part of a movement to create a separate city called St. George. The annexed properties include land around the Mall of Louisiana and Our Lady of the Lake medical center. St. George supporters criticized the annexations as attempts by Baton Rouge leaders to deliberately slow their efforts.
The Metro Council is set to discuss the millage resolution at their next council meeting. If approved, a special election would be held May 2, 2015.
"It's a combination of issues, not one," said Tarleton. "It's not about the city of St. George or the parish. It's about the fire department."
The district currently is at 14 mills which will generate about $15.8 million in 2015. According to the assessors office an additional 2 mills would generate just over $18 million. Property valued at $100,000 currently pays $35 a year. The additional mills would increase that tax to $40 a year.
"We're worried about the future, we need some additional resources," said Tarleton, referring to the possibility of building a new fire station at Bluebonnet and Nicholson, upgrades to existing property and building a maintenance facilty at their Airline Highway location.
The last tax increase to the St. George Fire District was in 2000. The Registrar of Voters is working to certify signatures collected to put the St. George incorporation proposal on the spring ballot.