Crime Prevention and Improvement Districts - FAQs
What is a Crime Prevention and Improvement District?
It is a legislatively created political subdivision of the state with taxing and spending authority that follow the boundaries of a residential subdivision.
Why do neighborhoods create them?
It is a mechanism that provides for an annual assessment of a fee that is dedicated for crime prevention and improvement of the neighborhood. These districts are mostly used by older neighborhoods that do not have mandatory dues in their covenants and find that voluntary dues are not sufficient to provide for enhanced law enforcement activities and general maintenance of common areas.
Is the payment of the fee optional?
No, it is collected when a property owner pays his or her annual property tax and is collected per parcel.
How much is it?
The specific amount is authorized in the creating legislation but is generally somewhere between $75 and $200.
What can the assessment be used for?
The assessment can be used for crime prevention with expenditures for items such as off duty police/sheriff’s patrols and installation of law enforcement infrastructure (cameras, license plate readers). Also, if authorized, it can be used for improvements items such as landscaping of common areas (boulevard. medians, neighborhood entry areas), signage and improvements to the neighborhood for a common purpose.
How much revenue can be generated?
As the assessment is per parcel, it depends on the amount of the assessment and the number of parcels. A typical neighborhood could be say 450 parcels X $150/parcel to generate $67,500 annually.
Who determines actually how the money is spent?
The Board of the District is required to publicly adopt an annual budget.
What would a typical budget look like?
Perhaps ½ of the annual income stream could be budgeted for off duty patrols. In the case above $33,750 (1/2 of 67,500) would provide for 1,125 hours of off duty patrol annually or about 90 hours a month. The balance, $33,750, could be used for landscaping of common areas, rehabilitation/maintenance of any common structures such as lakes, pavilions etc.
Are there any downsides to a District?
As a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana the district is subject to public bid laws, State Ehtics Code and public meetings and records laws. Also, it must report expenditures annually to the legislative auditor.
If a neighborhood were to create a district would it need to continue to need a Homeowners Association?
Absolutely, as a political subdivision there are certain things that a district can not do such as architectural control activities, deal with zoning matters and take positions on various political issues such as 5-G towers. The District cannot represent your neighborhood in a public dialogue.
Can you be more specific on how a District is created?
Creation requires two major steps. The first step is to pass a bill in the legislative session. These are generally non-controversial as it is a local matter. But as a local matter, intent to file the bill must be advertised in the local paper prior to introduction so one must plan several months ahead of the session to have a bill introduced. The actual drafting is done by legislative staff and they have done this many times. Generally, your local legislator (House or Senate) will be glad to sponsor a bill on your behalf and move it through the process. Again these are generally very non-controversial.
How do I follow (or track) my bill during the Session?
The Louisiana State Legislature’s web site is very user friendly. Here is a link to it: https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Home.aspx
When your bill is introduced and assigned a number it will also become live on this site. Just click on bills, choose the appropriate Session and search by bill number, author, etc. The site defaults to “instrument” when you click which means search by number, and you do have to select “bill” as there are many other instruments which also have numbers. As an example of the information that appears on the site go to:
https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?s=15RS&b=ACT127&sbi=y This is the screen tracking the bill that created the Riverbend Crime Prevention and Improvement District from Bill 691, prefiled on April 3 to being signed as Act 127 of 2015.
What information is under the various tabs?
Text-this is the actual verbiage in the bill. As you can see from the example there were four versions of HB 691 from the original to the final act. Each time anything is changed in the bill it is reprinted under this tab.
Digests-these are statements from legislative staff about what the bill does in layman’s language and are done each time something substantive is changed in the bill.
Notes-these are the fiscal notes prepared by the legislative staff from fiscal note work sheets you will fill out when your bill is filed and they are revised as the bill moves through the process. The fiscal note worksheet you fill out looks very similar to the actual fiscal note. It is simply a statement of how much funding will be generated and how the district intends spend it.
Notices- The first item, the Notice Certification simply is proof that the notification to file a local interest bill (the type the creates crime districts) has been appropriately advertised in the state journal, The Advocate. The second item is the formal Notice of Intention to introduce a local bill with a brief statement about what the proposed legislation will do. This advertisement is required by Article 3 Section 13 (B)of the Louisiana State Constitution as follows:
§13. Local or Special Laws; Notice of Intent; Publication
Section 13. (B) No local or special law relative to the creation of a special district, the primary purpose of which includes aiding in crime prevention and adding to the security of district residents by providing for an increased presence of law enforcement personnel in the district or otherwise promoting and encouraging security in the district, shall be enacted unless notice of the intent to introduce such bill has been published on three separate days, without cost to the state, in the official journal of the locality where the special district is to be situated. The last day of publication shall be at least thirty days prior to introduction of the bill. The notice shall state the substance of the contemplated law, and shall specifically disclose whether the governing authority of the special district would be authorized by the contemplated law to impose and collect a parcel fee within the district, whether the parcel fee will be imposed or may be increased without an election, and the maximum amount of the parcel fee if a maximum amount is set forth in the contemplated law. Every such bill shall recite that the required notice has been given.
Votes-this is a record of the floor vote on the bill
Authors-The author(s) of the bill.
The section under Journal displays each action taken on a bill by the day it happened.
How accurate and timely is this web site?
This web site is updated overnight every time something formally changes in the bill and will include changes to the bill text, and any updated fiscal notes or digests.
What happens next?
Next the board must be appointed. Your enabling legislation will specify how the board members are selected. Generally, it is the President of the HOA, some members selected by the HOA, appointments by the local state Representative and Senator, and perhaps appointment by the local tax assessor, or mayor president. When you meet with your legislative sponsor or more than likely legislative staff after they are given permission to draft, you will discuss specifically how you want your board selected. Each board seems to be slightly different, but it is spelled out in your enabling legislation. After board members are appointed you have your first meeting, adopt meeting rules, you must also file necessary paperwork with the State Bond Commission and Secretary of State to be included in a state or local election.
This is the second, more complicated, step. Yes the Legislature creates the District but a vote of the residents of the District is required to assess the fee and this election must get on the next ballot. This requires some strategy as you must pay for your prorated share of election expenses to the Secretary of State. If it is a statewide election your prorated share is very small. If it is a local election your prorated share becomes larger so you must keep this is mind.
What happens after the election?
The track record for Districts passing is good. The more active residents in a neighborhood (the ones paying the HOA fees) tend to vote in favor understanding that with the creation of the District the cost sharing of common expenses and enhanced crime enforcement activity will be fairly allocated to all those receiving the benefit.
Now that we have created the district when will the funding be available?
You will get your first check in January after the election is certified. The process from advertising the bill until the first check can take two years depending on election schedule.
How much does this all cost?
About $3,000: At first just the advertising, but then filing fees for various public entities, legal professional services to set up board rules (and facilitate this process) and then the cost of being on the ballot.
Where does this come from?
In most cases the neighborhood homeowner’s association bears these costs.
Does a District Board Member have to file annually a Tier 2.1 Financial Disclosure with the La Ethics Commission?
You probably do not have to as Act 538 of 2018 exempts board members of CPIDs from the requirement if the district collects/spends less then $500,000.
For further information contact: Robert Harper ([email protected])
Phone: 225 218.7804
DISCLAIMER: This is general information. For legal questions please contact an attorney.