School tax renewals before B.R. voters Saturday

School tax renewals before B.R. voters Saturday

A pair of 10-year property tax renewals before some voters in East Baton Rouge Parish on Saturday would collectively account for approximately $42 million annually for the local public school system—or about 10% of its total yearly budget—according to school system spokesperson Susan Nelson.

One of the renewals, at 6.5 mills, would support general operations for the district that includes 85 school sites and nearly 43,000 students. The other, at 7.19 mills, would go toward employee salaries and benefits. Nelson says the renewals are vital to the continued progress of the school system.

"Obviously, that's a lot of money, and it would have a very significant impact on us" if the renewals are not passed, she says.

An informational flyer the school system has distributed about the tax renewals says failure to pass them "will result in layoffs and reductions in services." Specifically, the flyer says services "such as transportation for Catholic School students, after-school activities with partner organizations, and student athletics will be impacted if this tax does not pass."

Although there's money and jobs at stake, turnout on Saturday is expected to be low; about 15% to 20% statewide, says Louisiana Secretary of State spokesperson Meg Casper.

"There hasn't been a whole lot of attention on the tax renewals, either for or against them," Casper says. "I think for a lot of people in East Baton Rouge, it's going to come as a surprise that there's anything on the ballot at all. That said, these are some really important local issues, so we've been encouraging voters to go online, see what's on the ballot, make an informed decision and come out and vote on Saturday."

Nelson says school system officials are optimistic the renewals will pass, adding she will be "waiting on baited breath until about 9 o'clock tomorrow night" when the results are in.

The election does not include Zachary, Baker or Central school systems. You can see sample ballots, find polling places and get more details at the Secretary of State's website here.

Today's poll question: How do you plan to vote on the EBR school system's request for the renewal of two property taxes on Saturday?

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