The second public meeting focusing on the millage for fire districts in the unincorporated parts of Lafayette Parish is happening at the Duson Community Center.
Lafayette Parish Fire Officials are hoping to ease the financial pressure on Volunteer Fire Departments with the property tax on the upcoming ballot. If passed, it may help increase staff and upgrade aging equipment.
“When you start talking about a new tax or a millage, I mean, it’s like nails on a chalkboard where people they don’t want to see it they don’t want to face it,” said Duson Fire Chief Coby Duhon.
This is a response to the lack of funding and a recent budget cut that’s put unincorporated areas in a hole. “Insurance here at the fire station is roughly 36,000 a year. That’s not including any repairs and fuel,” said Duhon.
A dedicated millage on the upcoming ballot would furnish funds for the seven volunteer departments in Acadiana.
“It’s pretty tough. I come off of work. I don’t even step into the house. I just run right into the shop dress up and we take off out of the shop,” said Volunteer Firefighter Kevin Duhon.
He volunteers after working his normal job. “We got to maintain our own equipment at times. There are times we’ve got to fix broken straps. I mean we just have to take care of our own stuff as volunteer guys,” said Lyons.
The department has 16 men on staff. Eight of that number is active, responding to over 350 calls a year.
“If we don’t get any more, it’s going to be a domino effect. If your house burns down, it’s a loss majority of the time, but again.. what’s a price tag on a child? What’s a price tag on an adult,” said Duhon.
Despite the financial hardship, the men said they are thankful for the experience. “It’s a great group of guys. Something I’ve never experienced before,” Lyons added.
“We’re going to continue providing as much as we can until we just have no more funds and that’s where we’re headed,” said Chief Duhon.
The Duson meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 4 at the Duson Community Center at 6 p.m. 310 Ave Au Nord, Duson, LA 70529