Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Evergreen Fire District dependent on tax funds

Voters in Evergreen Fire District 1 will have the power to continue funding their local volunteer fire department or leave the department with no other dedicated source of funding during the November 6 election.

Voters in that district will see a proposition that concerns a tax renewal for the fire district for another 10 years.

Evergreen Fire Department President R.O. Machen, said voters can trust the department is using taxpayer money wisely.

"Our department has passed a professional audit every year since 1979 and there has never been a discrepancy," he said. "This tax is extremely important not only for the function of the department – which is completely volunteer – but also to home owners."

Machen said residents and property can be better protected with secure funding, which is used for equipment, trucks, fuel and other necessities.

"In addition to those reasons, homeowners should also support this renewal because it saves them money," he said. "Everyone who resides in our district more than saves on insurance than what they pay in taxes.

We are also only asking for a renewal of 10 mils," he continued. "Currently the millage is 15.07. So we are asking to renew the millages, while cutting it by a third."

The district currently has a Class 4 Property Insurance Association of Louisiana rating. Machen said with out funding, the district would fall to a PIAL Class 10 rating, there by increasing insurance cost to property owners.

"This is the fourth time it has been up for renewal," said Denise Edwards, Webster Parish Tax Assessors Office Chief Deputy. "The most recent renewal began in 2003 and will end effective 2013 if not renewed."

Edwards said the fire protection district involves two parishes, Webster and Claiborne.

"The way the money is collected is each parish is responsible for collecting from residents in their parish," she said. "Then they each send the revenue collected to the Fire District."

To Edwards' knowledge, the fire protection district does not have any other dedicated funding except from the district tax.

"They may be able to apply for grants or other things, but that is not guaranteed funding," she said. "The tax generated $253,000 for 2012 in Webster Parish, which is about the amount it generally generates."

According to the Legislative Auditors office, the tax is effective in both parishes included in the district.

"The district is a multi-parish district, so we take the district as a whole, not the individual parishes," said Jo Ann Garrison, a Tax Review Officer in Advisory Servies of the Louisiana Legislative Auditors Office. "Voters in the district, which include both Webster and Claiborne parishes, will collectively decide for both districts. One parish involved in a district cannot vote in favor of, while other residents in the other parish vote against, because the voting district is looked at as a whole."

The Evergreen Fire Protection District proposition is worded as follows for Claiborne and Webster parishes:

"Summary: Authority to levy a 10 year, 10 mills tax for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining and/or operating fire protection facilities and equipment in and for Evergreen Fire Protection District, including fire trucks. Shall Evergreen Fire Protection District, Claiborne/Webster Parishes, Louisiana (the "District"), be authorized to levy a special tax of ten (10.00) mills on all the property subject to taxation in the District (an estimated $190,000 expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2013 and ending with the year 2022, for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining and/or operating fire protection facilities and equipment, including fire trucks, in and for the District, and paying the cost of obtaining water for fire protection purposes?"






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