NEW IBERIA — The Iberia Parish School Board voted 8-4 Wednesday not to increase property taxes.
The board also voted to contract with the Sheriff’s Office to assign three officers to four schools.
The proposed tax increase was meant to make up a $114,517 projected decrease in revenue because of falling property values, Superintendent of Schools Dale Henderson said.
Voting no were board members Robbie LeBlanc, Jesse McDonald, Kathleen Rosamond, Dan LeBlanc, Danny Segura, Kenneth Lockett, Rachel Segura and Arthur Alexander.
Voting for the proposal were board members Clara Carrier, Joel Dugas, Elvin Pradia and Edwin Buford.
Board members Raymond Lewis and Kenric Fremin were absent.
Henderson said $114,517 might not sound like much money, but after having to cover a $1.5 million deficit the last fiscal year, the revenue is needed. He added that $114,517 would cover the salaries and benefits of two teachers, and that a person with a home assessed at $175,000 would see an increase of only $2.30 annually.
Lockett, however, said that with residents having to suffer through a bad economy, he couldn’t justify increasing taxes.
Robbie LeBlanc said the school board has been spending millions, and it doesn’t send a good message to the public to ask them to pay for more when the board keeps dipping into the general fund.
SCHOOL POLICE OFFICERS: The board voted 11-1 — with Alexander casting the lone no vote — to enter into an agreement with the Sheriff’s Office to retain the services of school resource officers at New Iberia Senior High, Westgate High, Anderson Middle and Iberia Middle schools.
Two officers will be full-time at New Iberia Senior High and Westgate High and the third officer’s time will be split between the remaining two schools.
The new contract costs $90,000 for the three officers. Last year, the contract was $60,000 for five officers.
Pradia said he supports the new contract, but objects to the 50 percent increase in cost.
Henderson said the Sheriff’s Office initially wanted $130,000, but agreed to lower the cost.
Lockett said the school system will be paying $30,000 per officer for them to work 10 months a year, and added that there were no officers in the Jeanerette area.
Henderson said they decided to put officers at schools where they are most needed, and there have been few problems at the Jeanerette schools.
Henderson also said he would look into Rachel Segura’s recommendation that he instead consider hiring private security for the schools.