Voters will decide whether to pay higher taxes on April 9 when they consider the public safety millage that will appear on the ballot.
The ball to place this millage on the ballot has been rolling since November 2014 when voters passed a statewide Constitutional Amendment by a slim margin (51 percent to 49 percent), allowing the tax to be placed on the ballot by raising the special millage caps for police and fire protection from 5 to 10 mills. To place the public safety millage on the ballot for April 9, the City Council must pass a resolution tomorrow (Thursday), Jan. 7 at its regular meeting. The public safety millage, if passed, has a 12-year sunset period that would begin on Jan. 1, 2017, and continue through Dec. 31, 2028.
The proposed public safety millage includes 5 mills dedicated for police and 2.5 mills dedicated for fire protection. The 7.5 mills would be dedicated and not subject to the homestead exemption.
According to a press release from the city, the proceeds from the millage are needed to hire and pay for additional police officers and to pay firefighters what they are owed as part of the pension settlement reached last year.
“Public safety is our top priority,” said Mayor Landrieu in a printed statement. “We must hire and train a larger, more professional police force that will give us the tools required to reduce violent crime, reduce response times and provide our residents with the security we all deserve. These funds are needed to continue to recruit and hire aggressively over the next several years so that we can reach our department goal of 1,600 officers. We also must honor our commitment to our firefighters. These people put their lives on the line to save others, and we must honor the commitment that our city made.”
The 5 mills dedicated to the police are expected to generate $17.7 million. The 2.5 mills dedicated to fire are expected to generate $8.9 million.
If the Council adopts the resolution to place the millage proposal on the ballot at its Jan. 7 meeting as expected, the bond commission must also approve the proposed public safety millage at its Feb. 19 meeting in order to place it on the April 9 ballot.
If the millage is approved, an owner of an $183,700 home will pay $138 more in property taxes annually, or approximately $11.50 more per month. The owner of a $250,000 home will pay $188 more annually; and the owner of a $500,000 home will pay $375 more annually.