Bossier Chamber issues statement asking BPSB to pull tax prop from ballot

Local business leaders have encouraged the Bossier Parish School Board to pull their proposed taxes on the May 4 ballot.

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has recommended the school board to not seek new taxes that would fund teacher pay increases and a dedicated funding source for technology improvements.

“Because this tax is retroactive to 2019 and would impact business and economic growth, the Board echoes the sentiments of the poll conducted of the Bossier Chamber membership that this referendum is too much of a tax burden at one time,” an emailed statement from the chamber said.

The chamber also pointed out Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proposed statewide teacher pay raise and 2020 will be a reassessment year for property taxes in Bossier Parish.

“The Bossier Chamber Board seeks a solution that does not destroy the budgets of the small businesses that make this economy run, gives teachers incentives to build a great school district and gives the administration the tools it needs to recruit,” the release added. “We cannot let a solvable issue divide a Bossier community that has historically been so unified.”

One of the tax proposals would consist of a property tax increase of 22.94 mills for funding pay raises for teachers and classified employees. The second proposal would consist of 3.22 mills for a dedicated fund source for technology improvements.

If both proposals are approved, teachers will receive an annual $7,200 across-the-board raise. Classified employees like bus drivers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and custodians would receive $3,000 raises.

For Bossier business owners, the teacher and professional personnel pay raise would affect their commercial property valued at $100,000 to a tune of $28.68 per month, $57.35 per month on a $200,000 business property, and $86.03 per month on a $300,000 business property.

The technology proposition millage would cost businesses $4.03 per month on commercial property valued at $100,000, $8.05 on $200,000 value, and $12.08 on $300,000 value.

Bossier Parish Tax Assessor, Bobby W. Edmiston, gave the Bossier Press-Tribune examples of how much the tax increase could impact some larger businesses in the area, noting that a chain store like Home Depot would pay $38,378.69, while Horseshoe Casino would pay $494,031.24.

“In Louisiana, all businesses pay property taxes on all moveable property as well as real property. For example, Walmart pays on the building and land that it owns, but also has a separate bill for all of the furniture, fixtures, equipment, inventory at that same location,” said Edmiston. “A business with a property value of $100,000 would pay $393.30 in additional tax annually. A company with $500,000 in property value would see a $1,966.50 tax increase.”

Bossier schools has maintained the position that the parish pays less than its neighboring districts, which can compromise the ability to offer competitive salaries to attain and retain high quality teachers.

According to the Press-Tribune, Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey previously said, “We still need to attract and retain quality teachers to provide the best instructions for our students that we possibly can. Also our technology needs are growing day to day. So we want to continue to pursue that. We are determined, we are resilient and we are going to continue to work as hard as we possibly can to provide for our students and teachers now and in the future. May 4 is a very important day for our employees and our community.”