The Lafayette Parish School Board will consider on Wednesday whether to ask voters for a 16-mill property tax increase in the April 9 election to pay for new schools, security and technological upgrades, and building maintenance.
The millage proposal equals a tax increase of about 69 cents per day and roughly $21 a month for those who own property valued at $230,000, which is the current average home price, said Sandra Billeaudeau, the school system’s district planning administrator, during the board’s Nov. 23 special meeting.
The board voted on the rate of the proposed millage so the language could be added to a resolution set for approval at the 5:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday.
For those with property valued at $175,000, the tax would mean an extra $13 a month or $160 a year in property taxes, Billy Guidry, chief financial officer for the school system, told the board at the meeting.
Property owners now pay 85.02 mills for property within the parish’s municipalities and 86.55 mills for property outside the municipalities. Of that millage, 33.56 mills is collected for the school system.
Here’s how the board discussed spending the proposed 16-mill increase:
11.5 MILLS: To pay off $360 million in general obligation bonds for the following projects — second phase of the new high school planned for Youngsville; a replacement facility for Lafayette High; the second phase of construction at L.J. Alleman Middle; replacement of Carencro Heights Elementary; air conditioning in all gyms; improvements at all other high schools and renovations at W.D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center. The millage would expire in 30 years.
2.5 MILLS: 10-year millage expected to generate about $5.2 million annually for a maintenance fund.
2 MILLS: 10-year millage expected to generate nearly $4.2 million annually to pay for programming initiatives such as security upgrades, including more school resource officers, technological upgrades and educational innovations, which could include expenses like funding additional early childhood classes or career and technical education.
The full 11.5 mills would likely only need to be taxed in the initial year. After that, the millage is expected to decrease as the value of parish property increases, and in turn, as the school system’s debt on the bonds decreases.
Also on Wednesday, the board will consider pitches from two school bus camera enforcement companies for a contract to outfit Lafayette Parish school buses with cameras to help crack down on vehicles violating “stopped school bus” laws, and GPS equipment to enhance student safety. There are no upfront costs for the school district, and the enforcement is expected to generate revenue for the school system through the fines, similar to the city’s Redflex program. Redflex and Force Multiplier Solutions are the two companies vying for the bus monitoring contract.
On Tuesday, the board’s executive and finance committees will hold meetings.
The executive committee meets at 4 p.m., and its agenda includes a discussion on proposed adjustments to determine which employees will qualify for supplemental paychecks from the 2002 half-cent sales tax fund that’s dedicated to teacher raises. In May, the board revised the list of eligible employees, excluding some positions not involved directly in instruction or those positions who did not interact with students. As part of the revision process, educational diagnosticians were excluded, though they were part of the original 2001 administrative plan for the half-cent sales tax, based on information staff provided to the committee for its meeting.
At its 6:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday, the finance committee also will discuss the 2002 half-cent sales tax eligibility issue. Also on the finance committee’s agenda: staff’s request for $56,000 to pay for ACT, Advanced Placement and Work Keys tests that students are required to take as part of the state accountability system and about $240,000 for additional software licenses for Fast ForWord, a literacy program at five schools.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.