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|Voters to decide fate of fire department property tax|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury agreed to place a property tax renewal proposition to fund operations at Ouachita Parish Fire Department on the Oct. 17 ballot.
The police jury signed off on it Monday during its regular meeting.
Parish voters will be asked to renew a 10-year, 19.11 mill property tax. The property tax provides the fire department with roughly $6 million annually for operations. The current property tax expires at the end of the year.
Ouachita Parish fire chief Pat Hemphill told The Ouachita Citizen last month that he is optimistic voters will recognize efforts by the fire department and parish officials to improve the department. He said the fire department has worked hard to stabilize its operations and work within its budget.
"We did have a workforce reduction since the last election, but we have everything back in line and we're living within our budget now," Hemphill said. "We paid off all of our debt and got our fund balance back in better shape. The way things are looking - unless something unforeseen comes up - we should be fine operating with the same amount we're collecting now."
The millage rate of 19.11 is a reduction of what the voters approved in 2005, Hemphill said.
Voters in 2005 approved a millage rate of 19.24, but last year, the police jury agreed to roll back that millage rate to 19.11.
That was done due to a sound financial situation at the fire department. Finances were better than anticipated in 2008 because of some unexpected revenue during the year.
The overall projected revenue in the fire department's 2009 fiscal year budget is $12.7 million.