By Cyndi Sellers
The South Cameron Fire Board is asking for a tax election to replace the three district taxes for Cameron. Creole, and Grand Chenier with one property tax to support the new consolidated district. After consideration, the Board is asking for 8.0 mills across the board. As it stands now, money collected in each taxing district can only be used in that district, even though the districts have been combined administratively. Fire Chief Tim Dupont says combining the taxing districts will give him flexibility to provide for each area.
Currently, Cameron’s fire protection tax millage is 12.09, Grand Chenier’s is 3.97 mills, and Creole’s is 2.69 mills. The 2022 draft budget shows Cameron Fire District 1 with a projected property tax income next year of $474,626, a slight drop from last year, and an ending fund balance of $1,357,882. Creole, Fire District 7, would receive $20,029, a slight increase from last year but still $20,000 under expenses, for an ending balance of $39,543. Grand Chenier, Fire District 9, would receive $66,200 next year, a 21 percent drop from this year. It would have a $15,000 deficit leaving a balance of $269,539.
Creole and Grand Chenier do not currently bring in enough money to fund any improvements, said Parish Administrator Katie Armentor. While tax payments would go up for Creole and Grand Chenier under the proposed plan, combining the districts would make the whole area eligible for income from Venture Global once it comes on the tax roll, she added.
Plans to respond to the destruction of Hurricanes Laura and Delta include replacing two destroyed substations in Cameron and Creole with one substation located at the Cameron Recreation Center. The Creole multipurpose building will not be rebuilt, but the fire station will be repaired and will house Dupont’s office. The Muria Fire Station has already been contracted for repair. The Cameron fire station is operable but needs some repair. The Grand Chenier Fire Station is in good shape.
Dupont said his combined district now has the capability for better response to fires. Last week a fire alarm at South Cameron High School brought out six trucks and 13 firefighters before it was cancelled in route. Trucks from all three areas responded as one district. With the improved response, he hopes to bring down the district’s fire insurance ratings from a 5 in Cameron and Creole and a 6 in Grand Chenier to a 4 across the board. If so, area residents and businesses would see a reduction in fire insurance.
The Police Jury will vote next month on whether to call the tax election for Mar. 26, 2022. If it passes, all three districts would see the new millage in December 2022. If it fails, the millages would remain the same, but funds could only be used in their district.