HOLDEN, LA (WAFB) - Fire District 10 Chief Warren Stewart says he is not giving up hope for funding after voters rejected helping the district this weekend.
Voters in Holden, LA decided not to continue paying for fire coverage, but it was a close vote with 450 voting NO and 444 voting YES.
"Maybe it got caught up in all the propositions," Stewart said.
The renewal measure was the last proposition on the ballot, after several questions about the parish Home Rule Charter. Stewart believes it's possible some voters just voted no all the way down, without reading what they were actually voting on.
Chief Stewart says he is planning to put the property tax renewal back on the May ballot.
Before that happens, he and several of the volunteer fire fighters plan to go door to door to let the community know what the tax is for.
Stewart says it is a tax people approved at least 20 years ago. Every 10 years it must be renewed, which it usually is, except for this weekend.
The tax renewal, which would have been in effect through 2024, would have helped to buy new fire trucks. In the last 30 years, they have only bought one new truck, and that happened just a few years ago. The chief says he has been building and working on the other trucks for the fire station.
Stewart says a new truck would cost $170,000, but if he does the labor himself, it would only cost $40,000.
The money would have also helped purchase equipment for the three stations in the fire district. Stewart says the money also would have been used to train the 22 volunteer firefighters as well as helped with day-to-day operations.
Without the community support, Stewart says the district's three stations may fold.
"You're losing extractions for MVA's, losing AED quickly getting on scene, oxygen, and medical equipment."
Stewart says fire calls make up about 15 percent of the emergencies they cover. The rest are medical calls, extracting people who are pinned inside cars, and heart attack and stroke emergencies.
If the tax gets voted down again next year, Chief Stewart says they do have agreements with neighboring fire departments who would take their calls. It could mean longer wait times for help to arrive.
He also added, without the district, the areas fire rating would likely increase from a four to a 10, the worst it can be. As he understands it, that would mean people's insurance rates would dramatically increase by hundreds of dollars.