CLINTON — East Feliciana Parish School Board members rejected a request Tuesday to cut the size of an extra payment to employees in the face of a decline in property tax revenue this year.

The board occasionally gives employees a "13th check" to supplement their salaries when a surplus accumulates in an employee salary fund supported by a 17-mill property tax.

The board, in adopting its budget in June for the current school year, voted to pay a total of $250,000 for a 13th check, expecting to have the money available in the special fund.

However, financial adviser Tommy LeJeune told the board that property tax collections are down by $100,000 this year, as the net taxable value of property in the parish declined by $20 million.

LeJeune and Superintendent Carlos Sam recommended the board cut the total payment to $175,000, which LeJeune said would leave $19,500 in the fund.

The proposal immediately ran into opposition from Finance Committee member Paul Kent, who argued the proposed cut should have been aired at a committee meeting before it came to the full board.

"These people work hard for their money. This should have been a Finance Committee call," Kent said.

Figures presented to board members show regular spending in the property tax fund for salaries and benefits ranged from $168,580 in July to a high of $195,196 in June and the fund had an Oct. 31 balance of $564,524 with two months remaining.

Kent made a motion to continue with the larger payment, and he was supported by Beth Dawson, Melvin Hollins, Mitch Harrell, Richard Terrell, Joyce Kent and Rufus Nesbitt.

Board member Michael Bradford voted against the motion, Rhonda Matthews abstained, and Edward Brooks Jr., Tim Corcoran and Derald Spears Sr. were absent.

"We're spending money we don't have," Bradford said after the meeting, noting the larger payout will exhaust the fund's balance and the remainder will have to come from the board's general fund.

In other action, the board recognized Louise Jackson and Aimee Bellue as Employee of the Month and Volunteer of the Month, respectively. Both serve at Slaughter Elementary School.