Lafayette Board gives nod to advancing property tax proposals for April 9 ballot _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- A call box and security camera, pictured Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, are in use outside the front doors of J. Wallace James Elementary School in Lafayette, La. Security upgrades for schools across the parish are at the top of a list of priority projects that could be funded by a new tax initiative.

The Lafayette Parish School Board decided Monday to consider placing a 14-mill property tax proposal on the ballot to pay for priority school projects and maintenance and a separate 2-mill property tax for programming such as security and technology upgrades.

Of the 14 mills, 11.5 mills would be used to refund up to about $360 million in bonded debt and the other 2.5 mills would be collected and dedicated for maintenance.

Monday’s decision does not mean the property tax is headed for a ballot yet. The board will decide at its Dec. 2 meeting whether to call for property taxes on the April 9 ballot.

The go-ahead on the 14-mill property tax proposition was approved by all board members present. Board member Jeremy Hidalgo was absent.

The other proposed 2-mill property tax would generate about $3.7 million annually for school safety initiatives, including security upgrades and additional school resource officers, technology and education innovation.

Superintendent Donald Aguillard suggested the board ask the voters to fund $327 million in projects.

Those include: second phase of the new high school planned for Youngsville; a replacement facility for Lafayette High; a second phase of construction at L.J. Alleman Middle; replacement of Carencro Heights Elementary; air-conditioning in all gyms and improvements at all other high schools.

The board agreed to add renovations to W.D. Smith Career Center to the list, which is estimated at $30 million.

The final list of projects would be included in the proposed resolution, which the board will finalize at its Dec. 2 meeting.

The board took separate votes on the millage rate and the type of bonds that would be issued.

The board approved issuing general obligation bonds in a 5-3 vote with board members Tommy Angelle, Tehmi Chassion and Erick Knezek voting against. Knezek favored issuing limited tax bonds.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.