The St. Landry School Board considers trying property taxes again

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St. Landry School Board members continue to discuss putting proposed property taxes to a vote in 2023 to fund salaries, maintenance and new schools.

One of the proposed taxes, reviewed during a series of committee meetings this week, is a $15.37 million renewal of a community-wide alimony proposal that school officials say is critical to the district’s continued functioning.

A second potential property tax, levied within a newly created special tax district, would generate additional funds for proposed new facilities in the Opelousas and is also being considered.

No action was taken on the tax proposals as members are still stinging from an overwhelming rejection of a school tax in March.

That tax proposal was followed by another put before voters in 2018 asking property owners for additional revenue that would fund new schools and staff salaries.

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Bonding attorney Eric Lafleur told board members Tuesday night that the communitywide tax on the books, which generates $13 million annually in child support and salaries, is not due to be extended until 2025.

Lafleur told board members during a committee conference call that state law allows the district to hold a renewal election before the actual alimony expiration date.

During a Daily World interview, Tressa Miller, the school district’s finance director, said property taxes have continued to fund staff upkeep and salaries for the past 10 years.

Miller estimated that $4.37 million of the tax is for maintenance while $11 million is used to fund salaries.

“Those two taxes are necessary to keep the system running,” Miller said. “It’s very important that voters understand that.”

Lafleur suggested that the earliest date for the council tax renewal election is one of two 2023 election dates planned by the state.

“One of those would be March 25 while the other is April 29,” he said. “The other two dates for later this year are October 14 and November 18.”

In April, board members agreed to create a special real estate tax district to affect homeowners who send children to school in Opelousas.

The district’s boundaries additionally include a segment of property owners who live outside of town but send children to Grolee Elementary and Opelousas Junior High School.

Some board members were looking at November 8 as a possible date for holding the first tax district election, but during a May meeting, Lafleur said the St Landry Parish Assessor’s Office was having trouble identifying some of the land that would be used for taxation .

The issue of accurate property identification made it impossible for the Treasury to obtain an estimate of the special tax district property values ​​in time for placement on the 2022 ballot.

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Lafleur noted in discussions with board members that there are still some questions about what properties would be included for tax purposes within the tax district.

Some of the properties were partitioned, Lafleur said, meaning portions of the properties owned by the same person were within the district, while other portions of the tracts of land were outside of the district.

“The surveyor’s office was still identifying the boundary lines and parcels that could be divided,” Lafleur said. “They wanted to make sure all boundaries were respected. We waited for information from the appraiser.”

Lafleur said the past few weeks have shown that there is enough information from the surveyor about the district boundaries and areas.

He said it’s possible that all package assignments for the special tax district will be available for a July 7 meeting.

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