LAFAYETTE — A majority of voters rejected the Lafayette Parish School Board’s proposed property tax increase Saturday that would have funded $561 million major construction and repairs for Lafayette schools.
The proposition garnered 13,264 votes or 30.9 percent, with 29,557 votes or 69 percent voting against the measure, according to complete but unofficial results from the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Office.
The property tax proposition called for a 23-mill property tax increase to fund a 20-year bond issue for the $561 million construction program and a separate 2-mill tax designated for maintenance.
The projects are a “necessity” for parish schools and the School Board plans to bring the proposition back to voters at a later date, said School Board President Mark Allen Babineaux late Saturday.
“We’re going to have to put it back on the ballot,” he said. “There’s no question about it. The necessity is there. There’s no other way around it,” Babineaux said.
He said he hoped the defeat was a result of uninformed rather than misinformed voters.
Parish property taxes are 84.36 mills for most residents and 85.89 mills for those who live in unincorporated areas or in Broussard. Currently, about 33 mills are directed to the school system.
For a property owner with a $150,000 home, the increase would amount to about $15 more a month or $187 more a year.
Opponents of the tax proposition argued the construction program was too much, too soon and blamed the School Board for mismanaging school maintenance. The School Board took a step in fixing its deficient building and maintenance issues in 2009 with the hiring of a master planner to develop a comprehensive guide to fix facilities.
The master plan identified more than $1 billion in facility needs and included a prioritization of projects.
The $561 million in work represented the first phase of the master plan implementation and includes construction to rebuild seven schools: Northside and Lafayette High, L.J. Alleman Middle, Carencro Heights, Green T. Lindon, Katharine Drexel and J.W. Faulk Elementary schools; an auditorium for Comeaux High; classroom wing additions to replace portables at Alice Boucher, Broadmoor, Evangeline and Ridge Elementary schools and Scott Middle; and maintenance at all other schools.