Independence hoping tax help will keep police, fire departments operating efficiently

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 29, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 29 at 7:00 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

INDEPENDENCE, La. -- The town of Independence is hoping to get some help from its people to keep police and fire service operating efficiently.

Repairs to a leaking water tower and collapsing sewage lines are imperative, not to mention costly.

Mayor Mike Ragusa said it’s going to take a large loan to fix it and he needs the city’s extra money to pay it back. The problem is police and fire use that money now just to get by with eight staff members a piece.

"Here in about a year, we're gonna need to get that back,” Ragusa said. “They're gonna lose $80,000 a year each."

So the town council agreed this week to try for a new 10-year, 18.25 millage that would raise exactly the amount the two departments would be out.  If voters pass the tax, it could mean $120 more a year for property owners to pay in Independence.

If the tax doesn't pass, city leaders said there will be two fewer police officers patrolling the streets in the Tangipahoa Parish town.

Additionally, three fewer firefighters will be available for calls. If that happens, people in Independence will pay more in insurance anyway because the town’s fire insurance rating will be negatively affected.

Independence Fire Chief Dennis Crocker said, "When we respond to a structure fire, we are required to have four people there. So losing these people, we're a little different than the police department. It affects our … insurance rating."

"I don't believe the people would be satisfied with the service cut that we would have to implement if we don't get this millage passed," Independence Police Chief Frank Edwards said.

The mayor expects the council to officially vote in August to place the tax on the December ballot.
 

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