The Board voted 7-2 on Tuesday to put three proposals on the April 30 ballot.
“If we don’t call this election, we’re going to be held in contempt of court (by Judge Ian Lemelle),” senior board member Al Link told his fellows on the nine-member board.
One citizen urged the board to delay the tax request, suggesting it will fail under the current scenario and that a better approach would be staggering the proposals over the next two years.
New board member Chris Cohea appealed to the board not to test Lemelle on what he can do should the board refuse to call the election.
“Either we can pass it or the judge can,” said Gail McDaniel.
Officials revealed that the tax vote, which is currently the only item planned for the April 30 ballot, would cost approximately $75-80,000 just to put on the election, not counting advertising or other fees. And the parish’s CFO said the plan, if passed, allows for $1,000 per person employee pay raises for the parish’s 2,744 school workers -- but officials denied using that as any kind of “incentive.”
“That is in the order; I think we’ve all read it,” Supt. Mark Kolwe said.
The propositions are:
Proposition 1: A 20-year, $120 million general obligation bond package to provide for capital improvements for local schools. The money will be used to build five new schools and make improvements to the nine magnet/Montessori/IB schools. First year estimates call for a 17-mill tax for this item.
Proposition 2: Consolidation of existing parish debt into a single bonding district with a sinking debt retirement fund. If approved, officials estimate the existing debt to be equivalent to “an assumed 2.5 mill tax.”
Proposition 3: Voters would consider a special 10-year, 10-mill maintenance and operations tax to fund expenses related to the new schools.
Bonding attorney David Henderson told the board that all three millages, plus the EFID’s one-cent sales tax, must pass en masse or the entire package fails.
“The entire plan passes with an up or down vote. You are not passing this piece-meal,” Henderson said.
In addition to the millages and the sales tax proposal, the parish will also use the existing one-cent maintenance and capital improvement tax to fund more than $67 million in proposed renovations to the remaining 21 local public schools. That money would be generated through existing capital outlay funds or through the annual proceeds of the sales tax.