Posted: Oct 17, 2012 5:45 PM by Jenise Fernandez
Updated: Oct 17, 2012 6:04 PM
Voters hold in their hands the salaries of Lafayette city police and firefighters. Voters will decide November 6th if they want to renew "two" 10-year property taxes, that generate money for the departments. The first tax renewal is a 10-year, 3-mill property tax. That would generate about $3.7 million for police salaries. The other is a 10-year, 2-mill property tax. It would create about $2.4 million for firefighters. In all, the taxes combined generate $6.1 million.
Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft says, this tax has helped the police department recruit more personnel and raise police salaries
"Because of it, we were able to fill vacancies within the department that's existed for years," he said.
Craft says the department had to cut back on personnel for the upcoming budget year. But any additional cuts, would hurt the department.
"The loss of any additional officers would certainly result in some difficulty in providing the services we provide and maintain personnel to keep the city safe," he said.
Fire Chief Robert Benoit says this tax is crucial for the fire department. This tax has been included in the budget for ten years. He says a firefighter's salary is so low, that it's hard for the department to stay competitive.
"We're just trying to stay above water. This millage will keep us where we are," he said.
Benoit says, Lafayette has grown over the years, but public safety hasn't. As Lafayette continues to grow, Benoit also says, the need for more firefighters will too.
"If you want to continue to protect the citizens you need to give them the services they need. You have to build up public safety," he added.
Parishwide, voters will have to decide if they want to renew four other taxes as well. The renewals include, taxes to benefit the airport, drainage, the library, and a maintenance tax for Lafayette Parish Schools in District One.