It was a big audience at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1’s Board of Commissioner’s meeting – so much so that extra chairs had to be put out.
Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor Sheila Bordelon was there, along with District Attorney John Belton, Assistant DA Jeff Robinson, and six Lincoln Parish Police Jurors – Hazel Hunter, Nancy Wilson, Theresa Wyatt, Randy Roberson, Bobby Bennett, and Sharyon Mayfield.
They were there for the discussion about agenda item 9:
Consider and take action, if necessary, regarding correspondence to Tax Assessor regarding structure fee assessment.
“Structure Fees,” the $72/year tax for fire protection that appears on Lincoln Parish property owner’s tax bills at the end of the year has always been a contentious issue. Rural property owners have been suspicious that the fire district wants to levy the tax on barns, outbuildings, shops, and other structures that are commonly found on rural property. Discussion about that very issue has come up on occasion in meetings that we’ve covered.
Last night, however, the discussion centered around one particular type of structure – a building with multiple tenants. While the proposition that created the district states that,
…each residential or commercial unit in a structure shall be considered a separate structure…
for some reason that no one can recall, apartments and commercial buildings with multiple tenants have historically only been assessed a single $72 tax. It is notable that the proposition hasn’t changed, other than dates, since it was originally voted upon in 1991. See them here:
Said Bordelon, “The wording has always stated that, if you read it, but it had never been done like that.”
Board President Richard Aillet said, “Why it was started off being collected the way it was, I don’t know.”
Juror Randy Roberson suggested that when the proposition was first enacted, there may have not been many apartments in the rural part of the parish, and it wasn’t much of an issue at the time.
The board voted unanimously to send a letter to the assessor authorizing her to assess for the multiple units.
Acting Chief Donnie Watson said that there were about 40 structures in the parish that would be affected.
In other business, the board re-elected Aillet as President, and Ray Robinson as Vice-President. Committee assignments were also unchanged.
The board also held a 45-minute executive session, presumably to discuss the pending lawsuit against the district by former Chief Dennis Ford.