BOSSIER CITY, La. -- The Walker administration wants to make sure that a property tax renewal is just that -- a renewal of the existing millage with no increase -- to help fund the police and fire departments.
Mayor Lo Walker said there's been "subterfuge" to lead voters think there's a .19 increase in the millage. But Walker, along with the fire chief said the rate is the same as property owners have paid the last three years.
Walker explained that when the millage originally passed in 2010, it was set at 6.0 mills. Then in 2017, the tax assessor made a periodic review of property values, and raised the amount to 6.19.
"So the tax assessor made an adjustment in 2017 to increase it by .19. We've been paying 6.19 since 2017 since the tax assessor made that adjustment," Walker said.
And to show proof, Fire Chief Brad Zagone showed his own property tax notice for 2019 which shows he paid the millage at the 6.19 rate.
Both men made the case for voters to say yes to the renewal.
"We just simply want to continue to have the revenue and the wherewithal to continue the quality of service to the Bossier citizens that they enjoy now," Walker said of the need to maintain the current level of funding for the city's first responders.
And if voters say no?
"On an annual basis $3.9 million would be lost. We just might not be able to afford the number of policemen and firemen," Walker warned.
Zagone said this is no time to decrease funding. COVID-19 has kept EMT's busy.
"Now more than ever it's needed for your first responders to be there, to be able to attack this pandemic and be able to transport and take care of the citizens and guests of Bossier City," the fire chief said.
"We're running five ambulances right now and we have the staffing to do it where we used to run four. And we're at the point where we've had to stand up a sixth to get them where they can get back in service," Zagone continued.
The election was originally set for May, but has been postponed twice because of the pandemic. There are city runoffs and parish propositions to be decided all around Louisiana. The property tax issue is the only item on the Bossier City municipal ballot.
Early voting continues through Saturday. Election day is Aug. 15.