- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

HOUMA, La. (AP) - The Terrebonne Parish Council will work with law enforcement on a possible property tax increase for public safety officer raises.

The Courier reports (https://bit.ly/1KZnj33) police Sgt. Kyle Faulk and District Fire Chief Terry Leonard will meet with council members Christa Duplantis-Prather, John Navy, Greg Hood and Arlanda Williams to develop a proposal for the council to vote on May 27. If passed, it will go before Houma voters on Oct. 24.

Faulk and Leonard suggested an increase of 10 mills, which would be routed specifically to employee pay for Houma fire and police officers.

“Right now us and the Houma Police split a 10-mill public safety tax. We each get 5.08 mills and it collects $2million to $3 million for us,” Leonard said.

A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of taxable property. Since the millage increase would not be homestead exempt, the full value of property would be taxed.

For a homeowner with property value of $150,000, the increase would be roughly $150 per year if implemented.

The deadline for millage increase measures in this election cycle is June 10, so the departments would have to submit their proposal before the May 27 council meeting.

Williams said everyone on the council supports public safety, but they need to support the agencies through action rather than words.

“We’re not going to make a decision. We’re going to make a proposal for them to bring back before this council as a whole,” Williams said. “Once we have a proposal, we can vote it up or down at that time.”

Faulk, who is the president of the Houma Police Association, spoke to the council about police raises in early April. He presented the council with a study conducted by the Sarasota, Florida-based International Police Association comparing salaries of local police officers to other similarly sized departments and cities in the state.

The study - which included data from Houma, Lake Charles, Kenner, Monroe and Bossier City police departments, along with Ascension and Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s offices - found that the Houma Police Department’s pay is among the lowest in the state.

However, Faulk said some of the information included in that study was incorrect. So he is working with the association to conduct an updated, more in-depth study.

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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