BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Voters in Bossier Parish will vote this November to approve or deny a multi-million dollar tax increase. It will provide funding to update the fire department’s equipment.
According to the Bossier Parish Police Jury, the tax increase will be $3.5 million. It will cover District 2, which covers 155 square miles. For the past 15 years, South Bossier Fire District #2 has operated off one millage (14.59 mills) when a bonded indebtedness was retired early.
Fire Chief Ryan Foster says in 2007, the district did not ask voters to renew the department’s second millage, a $2.5 million revenue stream approved in 1990. The bond initially covered purchasing fire apparatus and building fire stations.
Chief Foster hopes voters in the district will understand his department’s needs. He says their budget has not increased to meet the rising costs of updated equipment.
“We have some of our front-line equipment that’s almost 30 years old, and we’ve watched prices for pumpers and commercial tankers go up while our income hasn’t increased,” Foster said. “In fact, we’ve seen about a 20% budget reduction over the last few years, and that leaves very little to save for future expenditures. The budget reduction has caused us to reduce staffing levels through attrition in order to support increased cost of daily operations.”
The police jury says Foster predicts the proposed tax increase will raise about $375,000 annually. With the additional income, Foster will implement a plan to purchase needed equipment over several years.
Foster’s equipment list includes:
- Two engines.
- Two pumper tankers.
- One heavy rescue unit.
- Four all-purpose vehicles.
- An assortment of station upgrades and firefighter/EMS equipment.
“Since 2007, we have been debt free and proud of it. We were able to let our second tax go back to the voters. However, to maintain the level of service our residents should expect to receive, we have to meet their needs with modern equipment,” he said. “This is a great area of the parish we protect, and I believe the people will understand why we’re asking for their help.”