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3rd District fire officials call for voter defeat of millage the parish says is needed

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ELMWOOD, LA (WVUE) -

It's almost unheard of, but an East Bank fire department is asking the public to vote "no" on a millage increase for fire service.

The measure on the ballot Saturday could end a 60-year tradition of volunteer fire departments in East Jefferson. Since the 1950s, the Third District Volunteer Fire Department has protected much of River Ridge and sections of East Jefferson.

"We have been here for 66 years and feel we have been a good representation of this community," said Third District Volunteer Fire Chief Baron Schwing.

But now that tradition is in jeopardy if a parish request for a 5-mil property tax passes this Saturday.

"The volunteers and the part-timers are fading out. People are too busy today," said Jefferson Parish Councilman Paul Johnston. He said the 20,000 homeowners who live in the Third District are not getting the service they deserve.

"They had a fire where two or three firemen showed up, and they wait for the volunteers to come, and while they wait, the house is engulfed in fire," said Johnston.

Johnston wants voters approve the tax increase. That would provide them with a full-time fire department with 30 full-time firefighters a shift. If the increase passes, property taxes on a $200,000 home would increase by about $70 a year.

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