The Red River Fire Protection District received the OK from the Red River Parish Police Jury to put to the voters a renewal and extension of their current property tax. That tax is now scheduled to expire in 2022 and a renewal would normally be requested at that time. Money from the tax goes to fund the new fire station.
Mark Waniewski with PMI Resource is working with the Fire Department on the tax issue. He told the jury the reason for renewing the tax at this time is a considerable savings on debt service of the current bonds. Waniewski said, “We currently have a debt service on the new fire station that is 25% of their operating budget. If approved for an extension of 10 years, they can refinance the debt for a longer term, for 15 years. The debt load would decrease to 7% of their operating budget.”
Several jurors questioned the need to act at the February meeting. Waniewski explained that approval would have to come at that meeting to meet the deadline for getting the issue on the May ballot. Jury President Shawn Beard asked, “Why can’t we wait and put it on the Presidential election ballot in November. It would cost us (the jury) nearly nothing to have it on the ballot then.” Discussion revolved around the cost of $30,000 to $40,000 to put the issue on the May ballot. The reason for the high cost is that it would be the only local item on the ballot in May.
Again jurors wanted to know why it had to be on the May ballot instead of waiting until November. Waniewski said, “May is the date requested by the financial institution that is handling the refinancing of the debt for the longer period of time. The date was set by the debt holder.”
A compromise was worked out that would allow the process of getting the bond issue on the May ballot to begin. Meanwhile, Waniewski is to check to see if the November election is OK with the bond holder. The Jury voted to approve putting the tax renewal on the May ballot. Also the jury will again take up the issue at the March meeting, if it is determined that they can wait until November to hold the tax renewal election.
During discussion of the matter the point was made that this is not a new tax. What is proposed is that the tax be renewed this year, and not when the tax is due to expire in 2022. That would be a 10 year renewal at the current millage rate.