St. John School Board cuts property taxes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – Money was the main issue at Thursday’s St. John School Board meeting with members voting to cut taxes and making available the money for the construction of two new schools in St. John Parish.

The board voted to reduce its property tax rate by 2.48 mills over last year. This will save the taxpayers more than $500,000 and was made possible by the fiscal soundness of the school board, according to board member Russ Wise.

Another item on the agenda was whether to adopt a resolution authorizing the advertising of sealed bids for the purchase of $17,000,000 in sales tax school bonds. The money would be used for the construction of a new elementary school and a ninth grade academy. The board passed the motion but with a much closer ratio than Superintendent Michael Coburn expected.

&#8220As you recall, board members, we met, we discussed, and we talked about this very issue,” Coburn said. &#8220It’s a 6-5 vote now; it was not a 6-5 vote when we talked and discussed.”

Board member Clarence Triche attempted to explain to the other board members and the parents how important these new schools will be to a growing St. John Parish. &#8220Just start looking at all the construction going into LaPlace,” Triche said. &#8220You will see that this system will be in a desperate situation in the next two to three years. We need to get these schools built, and we need to do it now.”

Some board members and parents in attendance weren’t as sure building new schools was the answer to solve St. John’s overcrowded school situation, including resident Arthur Smith.

&#8220I got a couple of problems with this. You got property that’s sitting at schools that’s abandoned. Use that property; re-allocate the resources,” Smith said. &#8220You got property that you’re trying to sell now, use that.”

Smith was referring to the old Second Ward High School in Edgard, which the board rejected all bids for Thursday. New Wine Christian Fellowship had offered $88,000 to turn the land into a summer camp and youth retreat, while local developer Joey Scartino proposed a bid of $101,000 for the 15-acre site.

Board member Russell Jack motioned to reject all bids for the property citing some constituents on the West Bank have had concerns over what the property would be used for. Board member Keith Jones sided with Jack saying that he had the best interests of the West Bank in mind.

The property can be re-advertised for sale at any time, according to Board Attorney Lloyd LeBlanc.