EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Voters in East Baton Rouge Parish will decide Saturday, April 29 whether or not to approve two property tax renewals.
"Both of them are critical to our operations. I think one is just as important as the other," said EBR School Superintendent Warren Drake.
Both measures are set to support the EBR school system. A 4.98 millage renewal will go towards general aid for parish schools, while a 7.14 mill tax will help fund salaries and benefits for the nearly 6,000 school employees. Drake says it's a much needed sacrifice to ensure quality service within the district.
"There's no such thing as the status quo. You're either moving forward or going backward, so you can't stay the same. So this will support us moving forward," Drake added.
The property taxes were last approved in 2007. If voters pass them again, they will be renewed for another ten years. Drake wants voters to know the school system has been a good steward of their money, at times doing more with less.
"We have been over the last couple of years in a budget deficit and we've worked very hard the last two years to make sure that we d rop that deficit. We cut $13 million from our budget last year," he said.
If approved, homeowners that take homestead exemption with a house valued at $200,000 will have to pay approximately $51.50 a year to cover the two taxes. Drake says if voters shoot down the renewal, there will be tough decisions on the horizon.
"We would have to sit down and take a look at where we could make additional efficiencies to make our system run better," said Drake.
While it's ultimately up to taxpayers, Drake hopes voters will see the value of investing in the school system. "We have some outstanding programs. We have 11 national blue ribbon schools. We just have a lot of great things going on in our system and again, I just ask for the support of the community moving forward," said Drake.