Whether a sales and property tax election is put before voters in May will depend on Wednesday night's vote by the Lafayette Parish School Board.

The resolution, introduced by Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper, represents the first step toward putting the tax proposition to voters in May by seeking board approval to issue notice of a public hearing on the matter, which would be held on Jan. 8.

RMay 130306 7382 Cooper  
Photo by Robin May  
Dr. Pat Cooper  

It’s unclear which way the board will vote on the issue, but if tonight’s request is denied, Cooper says a May referendum will be out of the question.

The last tax referendum for the school system, it’s worth noting, failed in October 2011, when 69 percent of parish voters came out against the $561 million bond proposal.

It’s also worth noting that Lafayette Parish, according to information recently presented to the school board by the Community Education Planning Committee, is ranked fairly dismally when compared to the funding received by the state's other 68 school districts. Lafayette’s school system has the 33rd lowest millage rate funding, and is the 64th lowest in terms of per-pupil expenditures. Likewise, our administration is the 65th lowest funded in the state.

Though a specific dollar amount hasn't yet been attached to Cooper’s requested tax referendum, CEPC studied five different funding options and made a recommendation calling for a combined 1/2 cent sales tax and a 20 mills property tax, which would generate about $80 million a year for the school system.

Tonight’s meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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