Fire Subdistricts Merging in West Baton Rouge

July 1, 2013

Fire protection services in Louisiana’s West Baton Rouge Parish will change drastically over the next year as the parish consolidates its six fire subdistricts into a single parishwide district.

The Advocate reports the consolidation is being spearheaded by Parish President Riley “Peewee” Berthelot.

Berthelot says he believes it is the only way to end a nearly 2-year impasse among officials over revising the distribution of about $2.5 million in annual revenue from the parish’s fire protection sales tax.

The discussions involved parish officials and the mayors of Port Allen, Addis and Brusly.

The issue was rooted in a 22-year-old formula used to allocate sales tax funds among the parish’s fire subdistricts in Port Allen, Addis, Brusly, Lobdell, Erwinville and Rosehill.

The formula used a weighted average that took 50 percent of a fire district’s population and 50 percent of its assessed property value back in 1991 into account to determine how much revenue each subdistrict would receive annually.

It would have taken unanimously approved resolutions from the governing bodies of each municipality and the Parish Council to change the formula.

Berthelot said that was never going to happen because subdistrict officials were unwilling to agree on a proposal that would diminish their own revenue.

“Anytime one of those fire districts was going to lose a dollar, they were not going to go for it,” he said. “We had dozens of meetings and couldn’t come up with an agreement.”

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