Tax millage renewal for WBR schools fails by one vote–WBRZ By: Falon Brown
WEST BATON ROUGE – Schools in West Baton Rouge could be facing tough decisions brought on by a severe budget cut if voters refuse to pass a property tax renewal plan.
A proposed 10 year millage failed the test Saturday, when only 11% of voters showed up to the polls. According to the results, 50% of votes were in approval and the other 50% were against it, with one vote swaying the outcome.
“We had set this up well in advance but ended up being the only thing on the ballot so I think when you only have one item that lends itself to having a lower vote turnout,” WBR Schools Superintendent Wes Watts said.
According to Watts, this property tax has been renewed every decade since the 1960’s and it makes up 15 to 20 percent of the annual budget. It’s a loss Watts says the schools cannot afford to take on.
“It would be a big deal. We would have to cut a lot of positions and probably reduce some salaries,” Watts said. “This is general operating, it’s one of our foundational funding mechanisms in terms of just general operations. This money goes towards just about everything we do.”
The school district has enough money to last until 2024, but if a revised millage does not pass in the meantime, it could spell trouble.
“The people in WBR Parish are very supportive of our schools, always have been. I hate that it got to this point. This is not in any way a mark that they do not support our teachers and our students because yes they do.”
Watts says eventually the item will be back on the ballot, but could not specify when.