BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) — Crime was rampant in the Melrose East area of Baton Rouge a few years ago, but that has since changed. With the help of MECA, the Melrose East Community Association, the area is slowly growing and crime has decreased. Now, in another attempt to help even more, MECA wants to establish crime prevention and improvement districts.
But these newly established districts will come with a price.
Lewis Dill is a major financial contributor to MECA and the recent changes in the Melrose East area of Baton Rouge and as president of MECA. He believes that by developing new crime prevention and improvement districts, the area will continue to improve in the long run.
"This is something that will hopefully have a legacy over the next 10 years," noted Dill. "It's a win-win for everybody."
If approved, property owners will have to pay a fee for increased security patrols. That’s roughly $500 a year for businesses and $200 for residential properties. In an area dominated by apartment complexes, most will pay less than $1 extra per year.
"Most business we talked to understand what it is, agree with it. There are a few who do not," says Dill.
Al LaPorte, owner of CMC Solutiona, a business in Melrose East, believes this is a step in the right direction.
"I think it’s going to help in the community. It's helped in the past and we have noticed some improvement from contributions in the past," said LaPorte.
But some residents disagree.
"I mean, with the units and stuff, yeah, but it’s aright with the police that they have now. There's not a lot of crime and stuff going on back here," Ted Overstreet, Melrose East resident, said. "They need to focus on the kids."
The funds from the tax will primarily go toward more security to help with crime prevention. If this tax is approved, the extra funds from MECA will go toward the beautification and clean up in the area.
"We're going to learn something in this election for this and were going to do our best to fund the education of what this is' because we want it to be something that’s good for everybody," Dill said. "It's not going to work if it's not good for everybody."
The community will vote on December 8, 2012 on the new districts and tax. If the districts are approved they wont even be assessed until the beginning of 2014.