By Marsha Sills
October 27, 2012
LAFAYETTE — A 10-year property tax millage that accounts for about 11 percent of the Lafayette Parish school system’s general fund budget is up for renewal in the Nov. 6 election.
The 16.7-mill tax generates about $27.5 million annually and the funding supports salaries and benefits for teachers, librarians, other school personnel, technology and day-to-day operational costs, Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Pat Cooper said.
“It’s 11 percent of our budget that keeps our doors open. It’s going to have an effect on schools, if it doesn’t pass,” Cooper said.
The loss of the funding would equate to adding three children to every classroom and be a “death nail” for the district’s six-year improvement plan to become an A-rated district, he added.
“This is not a Band-Aid,” he said. “If this is not passed, it will have an impact on the quality of the school system.”
The district has launched an outreach effort to educate the public about the tax renewal and how the funding generated is used.
A brochure entitled “Facts About the November 6th Millage Renewal” will be sent home with students this week, Cooper said.
One tidbit shared in the brochure: 98 percent of the district’s operating budget is for instruction and direct student-related services, and the $27.5 million generated from the tax supports those services, Cooper said.
The funding may be used for operations and maintenance at existing public schools and may not be used for any capital or construction projects.
The tax was first approved in 1985 and is not set to expire until the end of 2014. For budget planning purposes, it was placed on the fall ballot, Cooper said.
The tax cost for a property owner with a home valued at $150,000 is $125.25 annually, after the homestead exemption is factored in, he said.
Early voting on the Nov. 6 ballot begins Oct. 23 and continues through Oct. 30.
The tax renewal shares the ballot with four other tax renewals that fund police and firefighter salaries, and provides support for libraries and the Lafayette Regional Airport.