Councilman: Vote sends a message to fire department

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November 20, 2012
Political novices face off in Morgan City mayoral race
November 20, 2012

Dear Editor,

Thank you to voters for supporting and passing the 20-mill tax renewal for the Bayou Cane Fire District. There were 5,865 votes for the renewal or 60 percent of the vote. This is a smaller margin than I had expected for the renewal, as almost half of the voters, 40 percent, did not support the renewal tax. This should tell the fire department something.

A proposed new 10 mill tax levy was defeated, with 5,368 voters or 56 percent against the new tax. The people have spoken and expressed their opinions through their votes. I have publicly expressed that I was against this tax in an earlier letter to the editor.

Per the assessor’s office and the state audit, property values in the Bayou Cane Fire District have gone up in recent years, meaning more tax revenue collected. The fire department budget increased more than $890,000 from 2007 to 2011. No mention of this was ever made in the requests for the new millage.

Three fire trucks are required to be sent out for possible building structure fire, but not for vehicular accidents or medical runs. The majority of the runs made by the Bayou Cane Fire Department are for vehicle accidents or medical calls. Many constituents, including myself, have seen an excessive number of fire department vehicles out on calls.

There was a telephone conversation with the fire chief last month. I stated several times during that call that I would be happy to meet with the fire chief to discuss anything to do with Bayou Cane Fire Department and/or Terrebonne Parish District 3. I have not been contacted by the fire chief to meet.

The Bayou Cane Fire Department has a grant writer. Why is the grant writer not finding grants and other funding for the department?

The Bayou Cane Fire Department used to do fundraisers to raise money for the department. Remember the bingo games? When the tax millage was first passed, the then fire chief decided to stop these because there was going to be enough funds generated to run the department and did not need fundraisers. Why not bring the fundraisers back?

In January 2012, the Bayou Cane Fire Department determined that there was a clerical position no longer needed, due to a lack of work for that person. This position was never eliminated, yet the public was told firemen would be laid off if the mileages did not pass. Firemen and firewomen are the heart and soul of a fire department. All clerical positions should be eliminated before any firemen are laid off for lack of funds.

The Capital Items List was given to me by the Bayou Cane Fire Department acting chief. I was told that these were items the fire department needed and intended to purchase. I did not then nor now see a need for many of those items. A new sign, paving a stone road to the training center, and landscaping are not necessary to run a fire department or to protect and save lives.

I retired from the Houma Police Department after over 30 years of service to the community. My retirement had nothing to do with the budget or finances of the department.

Greg Hood,

Terrebonne Parish Councilman Dist. 3,

Houma, La.