BOSSIER PARISH – After a months-long battle, Bossier voters have spoken and Bossier Parish teachers will not be getting their pay raises. Residents said no to higher taxes to fund teacher pay raises. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting in complete but unofficial results, 26 percent of voters were in support of the measure, but an overwhelming 74 percent said no.
In the weeks leading up to Saturday’s election, voters on both sides of the issue rallied support and it got quite contentious at times.
The school board had two separate propositions on the May 4 ballot: 22.94 mills for salaries and 3.22 for technology upgrades. The measure in support of teachers would have generated about $26 million annually and allowed the board to give teachers an additional $7,200 annually and support staff, $3,000.
That would have equated to an approximate 24 percent property tax hike depending on the location in Bossier Parish, according to Tax Assessor Bobby Edmiston.
The average cost of a home in Bossier Parish is $135,000, said Edmiston. A homeowner who already pays $696 annually in property taxes would have seen their tax bill later this year increase to $852.
"There's still many, many parts that have to be taken care of and we've got to come together as a community. We've always been a very ,very strong community. We work so well together and we will work together again," says Lisa Johnson, president of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce.
The sticker shock would have grown for businesses. One with commercial real estate valued at $500,000 would have seen almost $2,000 more in taxes.
Superintendent Mitch Downey says they'll continue to give teachers a voice, despite the outcome.
"We're going to keep trying to put our employees first and take care of their needs. It's just unfortunate that we're the lowest paid teachers in the surrounding parishes. We're going to continue to commit to do everything we can to support the employees."
The Bossier Parish School Board released a statement saying: "We are understandably disappointed that competitive salaries will continue to be out of reach for the 3,000+ educators and support employees that make Bossier Schools the outstanding school system it is. Over the last couple of months, we have heard the viewpoints from numerous residents and business leaders, as well as their pledge of support for educators, and look forward to working together to find an alternative solution that will offer the children of Bossier Parish the best educational outcome they deserve."
The technology upgrades measure failed by a vote of 75 percent to 25 percent.
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