School changes could impact tax structures
With changes being made to Webster Parish School campuses, principal and teacher assignments and attendance zones, some community members may be wondering how the changes will impact their taxes.
“Any kind of change in the bonding districts would have to be approved by the voters,” Webster Parish School Board Assistant Superintendent Jackie Sharp said. “I’m not saying there will never be a time where that could happen.”
According to the Webster Parish Tax Assessors office, bonding districts follow independent boundaries; they do not follow police jury or school board district lines. Any revenue collected in the bonding districts stays in the bonding district. For instance, a Minden property owner’s millages would be spent in Minden and would not be used in another area.
“We have separate bonding districts in our parish while some parishes like Caddo are one big bonding district,” Sharp said. “So they can vote in a property tax to build or renovate schools and use that money throughout the parish and we can’t do that.
“At this point we don’t have it in our plans to do that in the immediate future,” she continued. “So everything will stay the same as of right now.”
Sharp and the assessor’s office confirmed that property owners will continue to pay their current millages, even if their students attend school outside the bonding district.
“Everyone is contributing somewhere, it may not be the same school that their child is attending,” Sharp said. “I am sure we will have to look at this issue but not in the immediate future.”
Sharp said that some questions concerning bonding districts were raised during the community meetings held before the WPSB voted to reconfigure schools in an effort to save money in light of the projected $5 million dollar deficit for the 2011/2012 school year.
“There are other pressing issues that we have to address first,” she said. “For one thing, the judge still has to approve all these changes. So I think any discussion about the bonding districts would be premature until we get the final go ahead from the court.”
Current millages for property in Webster Parish are as follows:
District 6 (Minden) 29 mils
District 7 (Doyline) 35 mils
District 8 (Springhill) 46.12 mils
District 12 (Cotton Valley) 19 mils
District 35 (Sarepta) 65 mils
Consolidated District 1 (Shongaloo) 19 mils
Consolidated District 3 (Sibley/Dubberly) 44.37 mils
The millages are in addition to a parish-wide millage of 15.76 mils that every property owner pays.
In addition to millages, revenues from three sales taxes are forwarded to the Webster Parish School Board.
“Some of the sales taxes, like the 1996 and 1969, are parish wide, and that money is used all over the parish,” Sharp said.
The 1969 and 1996 sales taxes were approved by voters in the respective years. Both taxes call for a one percent, or one-cent sales tax on goods purchased in Webster Parish. The revenue from these taxes is dedicated to supplement teacher salaries and other specific items such as school buses, computers and retirement benefits. The board is restricted by the specific wording of the sales tax propositions as to what the revenue can be spent on, how much can be spent and when it can be spent.
“Then you have the District 6’s one half-cent sales tax – it was and will be only used and taxed in the Minden area for maintenance and construction needs,” Sharp said. “So anyone that shops in Minden contributes to that half-cent sales tax, just like when we shop in Bossier or Caddo parishes we are contributing to their tax revenues.”
The District 6 sales tax of a half percent will generate funds for the 25 years following its approval (2029). The revenue collected from the District 6 sales tax is dedicated to maintenance specifically for Minden schools.
“The sales taxes that are already in place will remain the same,” Sharp said. “As long as community members shop at home, in our parish, they are helping us.”To view more information on Webster Parish Taxes visit www.laota.com or www.websterassessor.org.