EBR schools taxes up for renewal, revenue cover pay for teachers and support workers

Early voting starts Saturday for the May 3 election that features renewals of two property tax propositions to maintain the pay of East Baton Rouge Parish schoolteachers and other school employees.

They are the only items on the ballot in much of the parish. Voters in Baker, Central and Zachary, where they have independent public school districts, won’t vote on these propositions.

Early voting ends April 26.

Voters will have two propositions to consider:

A 2.78-mill property tax generating $8.9 million a year. It funds teaching positions.

A 1.86-mill property tax generating almost $6 million a year. It helps support salaries and benefits for all employees.

The taxes amount to a total annual tax bill of $11.60 for a home assessed at $100,000. They are subject to Louisiana’s homestead exemption.

If renewed, they would remain in effect for 10 more years, through 2025.

East Baton Rouge Parish schools levy 43.45 mills in total property taxes. The district educates almost 42,000 children. It has about 6,000 employees, more than half of them teachers.

About 233,000 people are registered to vote for the May 3 election.

In April 2013, voters renewed two school taxes with less than 6 percent of voters going to the polls. Last month, a little more than 6 percent of voters parishwide renewed two property taxes that fund BREC operations. In both cases, they were the only things on the ballot.

If voters vote “no” on May 3 to the tax renewals, the school system would have two more chances to try again before the taxes would be dropped from the rolls. They would have to wait at least six months, though, before making another attempt.

The estimated $14.9 million raised by the two taxes up for renewal represent almost 3 percent of all school system revenue and almost 4 percent of the money that funds its general operations. Failure to renew the taxes would add to the financial woes of a school system that has undergone five straight fiscal years of budget cuts and is preparing for a sixth.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor said in March that he’s preparing for a $33 million shortfall for the 2014-15 fiscal year, $28 million of which stems from new or expanding charter schools, some approved over the objections of the school system.