Pointe Coupee Parish approves property tax to fund firefighters

POINTE COUPEE — Pointe Coupee Parish voters overwhelming passed an 11-mill property tax to help fund full-time firefighters in a growing area of the parish, according to complete but unofficial election returns.

Officials say with the millage, the Fire District 4 will be able to hire nine full-time employees to staff the Livonia, Fordoche and Lottie stations. The department would also still staff part-time firefighters.

Saturday election returns show the millage passed with 69% of the vote. 31% of voters rejected the millage increase. Only 11 percent of voters cast ballots.

“We have four volunteers,” said District 4 Assistant Chief Evan Doucet. “That’s a dying breed across the country. Currently, we run everything with part-time personnel that comes from other departments and work part-time.”

Doucet said the department’s current millage is 10.9, which has been in place since 2005. With the 11-mil vote passing, it will be added to the 10.9 for a total of 21.9 mills. The additional millage is expected to double what residents pay for fire protection.

The 10-year millage could generate around $800,000, according to fire district officials.

Doucet says that the parish hired part-time firefighters in 2005 and has been operating the same every since despite areas of the parish growing in popularity.

The district covers Livonia, Fordoche, Torbert, Lottie, and other areas on the southern tip of the parish. The district has six stations but two were taken out of service because of a lack of volunteers.

Officials say with the millage, the district will be able to hire nine full-time employees to staff the Livonia, Fordoche, and Lottie stations with one firefighter 24/7.

Officials say the current fire district budget spends $500,000 on salaries and benefits for part-time personnel. A full-time firefighter will cost between $70-$80,000 per year for salaries, benefits, uniforms, etc. Some of the money will also go to upgrading and replacing some of the stations. A pair of stations are over 40 years old.

“We want to improve,” Doucet said. “The people of Pointe Coupee District 4 deserve better. We’re trying to improve emergency response. We’re trying to do that.”

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