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Rural EBR voters reject property tax increase intended to bolster fire station

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CHANEYVILLE - Peggy Moak lives in Chaneyville, a rural part of East Baton Rouge Parish.

It has an all volunteer fire district, and voters here rejected an increase in property taxes
to improve fire protection.

"Well I think it's sad. But so many people are out of work right now and the taxes are so high on property that so many people just feel like they couldn't take any more," Moak said.

The fire chief at  the Chaneyville Fire District watched as the votes were coming in Saturday.

"Very close. I was checking it every three minutes or so," Chief Blake Bourgeois said.

That vote also eliminated the fire district's current funding it gets from property taxes. A second proposition came very close to failing on Saturday which charges a $32 annual fee for each property owner in the district. It passed by only six votes.

"When you call 911, you want a professional fireman showing up at your house and being able to solve your problem," Chief Bourgeois said.

That tax increase would have allowed them to add a second firefighter 24 hours a day at Chaneyville's new fire station. That would increase the fire protection and reduce the fire rating by one point, lowering homeowners' hazard insurance cost.

"If the voters go back to it and put it back next year, and they don't want it, that's fine too. We'll just keep going like we've been going," Chief Bourgeois said.

"Hopefully in better times they can come back again and ask for it, and it will be approved," Moak said.

The fire district's current funding will stay in place until the end of 2021. Next year, the district could ask voters to reinstate the current tax rate or for an increase.

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