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St. John School Board calls for new tax

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish residents are again being asked to vote on a sales tax increase.

Local residents shot down a St. John Parish School Board request for an additional .25 percent sales tax in April that would have benefited the School District, voting 1,501 (52 percent) against and 1,372 (48 percent) in favor.

The School Board was asking voters to approve a .25-cent sales tax (25 cents for every $100 spent) increase on purchases in the parish.

School Board members voted again this week to seek a .25-cent sales tax increase, designating funds generated from the additional sales tax split between employee salaries and benefits and the maintaining and repairing of all school buildings.

The issue now heads to residents, who will vote on the proposal Dec. 10.

The approval process came with some debate Thursday as an effort to amend the tax proposal and one motion to table it each failed for lack of support.

“This currently says this quarter cent (tax) would remain in effect for perpetuity,” School Board Member Russ Wise said. “I’m not sure we need it forever and ever, Amen. Within the next five years, we should have other revenue streams coming on. Right now, things are pretty tight because we have to have a stable income stream to cover our costs, but five years from now we will have Marathon coming on stream. We’ll have a couple of other things that will have come.”

Wise proposed capping the tax increase at five years. His motion failed for lack of a second.

School Board Member Albert Burl motioned to table the proposal to allow for St. John’s sheriff, school superintendent and parish president to meet.

Burl suggested the parish leaders discuss redistributing millage revenue already collected by the entities as a way to allot more income for the School District.

He suggested the recent floods in neighboring parishes could send an influx of residents to St. John, similar to what was experienced after Hurricane Katrina, increasing what all entities currently receive in property tax income.

Burl’s motion died for a lack of a second.

The sales tax proposal was ultimately passed with Burl and Wise voting no and all other present Board members voting yes. School Board Member Rodney B. Nicholas was unable to attend the meeting.

The tax proposal received an approval recommendation from Superintendent Kevin George before the School Board vote.