PLAQUEMINE — After a lengthy discussion and debate, Iberville Parish School Board members voted Monday to maintain current millage rates for the 2011-12 school year.
The 10-4 vote will keep the system from collecting additional millage revenues next year and could “endanger one or two schools” amid budget cuts, Superintendent of Schools P. Edward Cancienne said.
The request came as Cancienne was preparing a budget for the 2011-12 school year that includes a $10 million deficit and $5 million in cuts.
The increase would have brought millage collections to their maximum collection rate of 59.27 mills.
However, with the vote, the board will continue to collect 56.66 mills through the 2011-12 fiscal year. Rates cannot be rolled forward for the 2012-13 school year because of scheduled property reassessments, Cancienne said.
Also, collections on a 7-mill property tax not renewed earlier this year by parish voters will end in December, the superintendent said.
Voting against collecting the higher millage rate were board members Brian Willis, Nancy Broussard, Tom Delahaye, Pam George, Albertha Hasten, Yolanda Laws, Freddie Molden III, Darlene Ourso, Donald R Patterson and Dorothy Sansoni.
Board President Melvin Lodge, Vice President Glynna Kelly and board members Michael Barbee and Paul Distefano voted for the measure. Board member Michael Hebert Jr. was absent from the meeting.
During the discussion, Cancienne said one of the units at the Dow Chemical plant near Plaquemine is scheduled for demolition.
The unit closure could mean a loss of up to $100,000 in annual property tax collections for the district, he said.
Cancienne also said that hundreds of system employees were scheduled to receive step increases in salary, but funding for such increases was removed from the 2011-12 budget.
When members of the audience questioned why the board was looking to increase its collections, Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry said that after rollbacks in recent years, the system was not collecting the maximum rate allowed by voters for the millages.
While the public did agree to the maximum millage rate, Patterson said, he could not support rolling forward.
“I don’t want to see any schools close,” he said. “I’ve been through that, and I don’t want to put that burden on anyone else.”