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Upcoming vote on establishing crime prevention districts

In two areas of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, residents are faced with a choice on a Dec. 8 ballot on whether they want to pay additional fees to support enhanced security efforts intended to prevent violent crime such as murder or rape. The measures, if approved by voters, would establish crime prevention districts in Melrose East in one instance, and in Mayfair Heights, Mayfair Park and Mayfair Park East on the other.

The establishment of the district in Melrose East would result in property owners there being required to pay new fees of as much as $500 for commercial property owned and $200 per year for residential homeowners and apartment buildings. The fees would be mandatory starting with the New Year and would continue to be imposed for a decade, with the funds being utilized to pay off-duty police officers to engage in additional sweeps of the neighborhood, as well as other enhanced security measures.

The cost of the new district is estimated at between $75,000 and $100,000 initially on an annual basis. Some question whether the money couldn't be better spent on other community needs, and whether the measures proposed are really warranted.

In the other proposed new anti-crime district, in Mayfair Park, Mayfair Park East and Mayfair Heights, the initial annual cost would be $144 for each parcel of land containing buildings. The fee there would also start with the New Year, but the measure would only authorize the collection of the fee for five years, rather than the decade contemplated by the Melrose East proposal. The proceeds of the fee to be collected in 2013 would be expected to be approximately $61,000. Proponents of the proposal claim it is needed to safeguard elderly residents of the community and stop rising crime rates.

Source: The Advocate, "Crime prevention districts proposed," Ryan Broussard, November 26, 2012

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