May 3 election called for Walker area voters to decide on proposed bond issue

Voters in Bonding District No. 4 will decide at a May 3 election whether to raise property taxes in the Walker area to pay for facility improvements at Walker High School, a unanimous Livingston Parish School Board decided Thursday night.

Bonding District No. 4 roughly the same area as the Walker attendance zone. The vote will be whether to allow the School Board to issue a general obligation bond that would raise millage rates initially, then gradually decrease over time.

The higher millage would be used to pay off the debt service on the bond.

Livingston Parish has established school bonding districts within the parish so residents have to vote on bonds for projects only within their children’s bonding district.

The bond would not exceed $25 million and would be paid off over a 20-year period, Superintendent John Watson said after Thursday’s meeting.

The School Board’s attorneys project the Walker district millage rate would rise by about 18.68 mills in 2015 if the bond is approved, Watson said.

Walker’s millage rate is 9.77 mills.

The parish Assessor’s Office estimates that the millage hike would increase property taxes in the district by about $140 per year on a $150,000 home with a homestead exemption and $233 annually on a $200,000 home with a homestead exemption, according to a School Board statement issued Thursday.

Officials have said the new buildings for Walker High School are needed because of rapid growth at the school, which sits between Burgess Avenue and U.S. 190 just off La. 447. Early plans include new classrooms, an upgraded technology center and new science labs.

The School Board voted at previous meetings to buy about 4 acres just south of Walker High School for the expansions and may buy more land in the future.

The bond also would be used for technology upgrades at other Walker-area schools, including Walker Freshman High School, Westside Junior High, North Corbin Junior High, North Corbin Elementary, Levi Milton Elementary, Walker Elementary, South Walker Elementary and South Fork Elementary.

The proposed bond will be submitted to the state Bond Commission next week, said David Henderson, the board’s bond attorney.

In other business Thursday:

OFFICERS NAMED: The board unanimously named Malcolm Sibley as its president for 2014 and Buddy Mincey Jr. as its vice president.

Sibley and Mincey, the only nominees for their respective positions, served in those roles in 2013.

Sibley said after the vote that the board might delegate new committee assignments and consolidate some committees altogether.