Voters OK school tax renewals

East Baton Rouge Parish voters - except those in Baker, Central and Zachary - on Saturday renewed two property taxes for public schools by overwhelming margins, according to complete but unofficial results.

With all 277 precincts reporting, here's how the votes went:

PROPOSITION 1 FOR 6.5 MILLS: Unofficial returns showed it was approved with 10,896 voters, or 72 percent, voting yes, and 4,266 voters, or 28 percent, voting no.

The tax pays for general operations of the school system, generating about $20.1 million a year.

PROPOSITION 2 FOR 7.19 MILLS: Unofficial returns showed it was approved with 10,831 voters, or 72 percent, voting yes, and 4,295 voters, or 28 percent, voting no.

The tax is dedicated to employee salaries and benefits, generating about $23.2 million a year.

The successful renewal means the taxes will remain on the tax rolls through 2024.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor credited school employees and the work they do daily to "serve children well" for the strong show of support.

"It's good to be able to confirm what we already know about this community: that they care about children, they care about education, and they are willing to provide the resources to make that work," Taylor said.

Saturday's vote was almost identical to the last time these taxes were renewed in 2004, when they both enjoyed more than 70 percent support.

Voter turnout for Saturday's election was a low 6 percent on both propositions, slightly down from the 7 percent turnout in 2004 when Central was still part of the parish school system. More than 15,000 people voted Saturday, about 3,500 more than voted in 2004.

A total of 234,386 people were eligible to vote in Saturday's election.

Taylor said he was not troubled by the low turnout. He noted that the two items were the only items on the ballot in East Baton Rouge. But if a better case could have been made to reject the renewals, that case would have been made, he said.

"We are talking about the challenge, we are doing something and people are listening," Taylor said.

The taxes amount to a total annual tax bill of $34.23 for a home assessed at $100,000. They are subject to Louisiana's homestead exemption.

Almost 43,000 children are enrolled in the parish public school system.