George: Fruitful school district tied to tax revenue
Published 12:02 am Wednesday, November 23, 2016
I hate taxes.
In fact, I think we should stop paying taxes altogether. Sales tax? Forget it. Gasoline tax? Nope. Property tax? No way. Inventory tax? Are you kidding me? Why pay any taxes at all?
Just think of all the things you could get rid of if we just got rid of taxes. Here is a quick list: federal government, state government, police, roads, schools, fire departments, military, criminal justice system and so much more.
Absurd? Yes, absolutely absurd. No one can imagine what life would be like if we did not have just one of the services/entities I just listed, yet, no one wants to pay taxes.
My grandmother, who died this past September at the age of 97, said it best, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die.”
You see, everyone enjoys the spoils of taxes, yet no one cares to pay them. As the old saying goes, “Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax that guy standing by that tree.”
Our school system has the lowest millage rate in the region at 39.61, but the entire parish millage rate is over 117 mills. Our School Board did not want to raise mills on already devastated property owners. Instead, we felt a modest .25-cent sales tax (a quarter for every $100 you spend) would be spread evenly to all residents.
This entire community benefits from a good school system. Property values soar, population increases, crime decreases and businesses move here when the public school system thrives.
This community gives away approximately $30 million in tax exemptions annually to local business and industry. If our school system had a quarter of those dollars we would not have to go to the voters for additional money.
Thankfully, Gov. Edwards issued an executive order to curb the amount of exemptions given, but that does not help us right now.
We are the largest employer in the parish with over 900 employees. We educate over 6,500 students. Our district performance score is a “B” for the second consecutive year. We provide outside services to the community, including recreation transportation, facilities for recreation, feeding programs, use of buildings for events, use of buses for rescues and evacuations — and those are just a few.
Our payroll for these 900 full-time employees is over $59 million. It’s even more when you add in part-time employees.
During the last fiscal year, the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District spent approximately $3.7 million at local businesses for various items and services needed to run the school system. Throw in another $3 million to local sub-contractors and supply houses on our capital projects and construction and you can see that the system, while serving an educational role, also serves as an economic engine.
I hate taxes, but I love St. John the Baptist Parish. A viable public school system is an essential component for a successful, wealthy community.
Help us to help this community become the best place to live in this state. We can do it if we do it together.
Kevin R. George is superintendent of St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. He can be reached at 985-536-1106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.