Voters in Central are being asked to renew 32.52 mills of property tax, almost 6 mills less than the rate they approved nine years ago when Central first gained control of its public schools.
The tax renewal is on the March 5 ballot. Early voting began Saturday and ends this coming Saturday. The Central Community School District has about 21,400 registered voters.
On March 31, 2007, just before Central broke away from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, Central voters switched over 38.45 mills in property taxes. Eighty-seven percent of Central voters that day agreed to the transfer.
In the almost nine years since, Central has enjoyed fast growth — it has about 2,000 more students now — and consequently has been able to roll back its millage repeatedly to its current level of 32.52 mills. That is the rate voters are being asked to renew.
“We’re trying to stress that in the information we’re putting out there,” said Superintendent Michael Faulk.
An informational campaign connected to the tax renewal proposition began earlier his month. Parents and Central schools employees have received brochures and letters sent out to the most active voters, Faulk said.
“We are just giving them the information and letting them decide,” Faulk said.
A brochure posted on its website emphasizes the young school district’s academic success. It’s been among the top-performing school districts in the state since its inception, and it currently has an A rating and is ranked fifth statewide.
The current tax is set to expire in 2017. If voters reject its renewal March 5 at 32.52 mills, the Central school system will have at least two more opportunities to try again before 2017.
The millage equates to a total annual tax bill of $243.90 for a home assessed at $150,000, and $569.10 for a home assessed at $250,000. The millage is subject to Louisiana’s homestead exemption, so the first $75,000 in value on the home is not taxed.
It is expected to raise almost $4.4 million a year. That’s about 10 percent of the school district’s budget, but it is about half of the local taxes raised that fund school operations.
Central property owners pay a total of 60.4 mills currently for their public schools. In addition to the 32.52 mills up for renewal, there are 4.23 mills allowed in the state constitution for public schools, as well as 23.65 mills that pay for school construction bonds.