Caddo School Bond Package: Higher Rents…

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… Lower Home Sales, More Population Loss??

Opinion by John SettleOn May 2 the Caddo Parish School “Re-invest in Caddo” $108 million bond package will be on the ballot–along with tax renewal for the Biomed Foundation. Caddo voters can sit at home, vote for more taxes or vote to INVEST in Caddo by defeating both tax measures. For those voters who are owners of real estate, these votes count were it matters the most–in their pocketbooks. And for those do NOT own real estate but who can vote to burden their neighbors and local businesses who do, this vote could very well hurt their finances as well.

Opposing StatisticsOutstanding research by local good government advocate Elliott Stonecipher shines a spotlight on the Caddo tax burden-a message that will NOT be heard from Caddo School Superintendent Goree’ and School Board members as well as those who will undoubtedly benefit from approval of the bond package, i.e. the local construction community and others who will probably underwrite a “Vote Yes” campaign. And it is anticipated that the 5,800 plus employees of the Caddo School system will be “educated” on the importance of voting by the Central Office (or their schools at the direction of the Central Office) which, in effect, will be paid for with tax dollars.

honest journalism
honest journalism

Stonecipher’s exhaustive research, which is fully documented, reveals grim facts on the Caddo tax burden and the Caddo population decline–which he believes are connected. The facts can not be disputed–only the relationship, if any, of the tax burden and population decline as well as the impact of both on the Caddo economy. And the trickle down effect of MORE taxes will likely cause consequences the average voter may not contemplate- but could directly affect housing, both rental and owner occupied. as well as population growth or decline.

Caddo "For Sale!"
Caddo “For Sale!”

Stonecipher’s pro bono labors reveal the following populations changes from 1986 through 2014: Caddo Parish -3.7% decline; Bossier Parish 38.6% growth; Desoto Parish -.4% decline. During that same 28 year interval, the United States population growth was 32.5%, Texas grew 62.8%, Arkansas increased 27.2% and Louisiana recorded only a 5.5% population increase. Caddo Parish did not suffer an outmigration of residents due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita and in fact some of those refugees made Caddo their new home; the parish’s population decline in the face of overall state growth is thus even more distressing.

And what about real estate ad valorem taxes in the last 30 years (1983 through 2013)? One guide for evaluation is the dedicated school property tax millage which is NOT affected by inflation; Stonecipher reports a 100.9% increase for Caddo Parish and a 88.4% increase for Bossier Parish (Desoto Parish data not available) in tax millages during this time frame. The actual dollar burden of the tax millage is, of course, dependent on the assessed tax value of the real estate; an accurate measure is the increase in taxes, as a multiple of increase in total property value, adjusted for inflation. This computation shows a 10.6x increase for Caddo Parish as compared to a 3.1x Bossier Parish increase and 2.5x in increase for Desoto Parish.

Taxpayer_ShakedownSo what does all this mean to John Q. Public? If he owns real estate in Shreveport that is not tax exempt, then he is a member of the Highest Ad Valorem Tax Club in Louisiana; the same goes for Shreveport businesses that own real estate.

For the prospective home purchaser, it means “maybe I should look in Bossier or Desoto Parish” for a house–the same applies to businesses seeking to purchase real estate. And for the renter non property owner–surprise, your rent will reflect in part the taxes paid by your landlord. Yes renters, in effect, get to pay a portion of real estate ad valorem taxes whether realizing it or not.

Readers are invited–no encouraged-to make their own conclusions about the relationship, if any, between Caddo real estate taxes and the Caddo population loss. And while they are working through these numbers they should bear in mind that the Caddo school population has DECLINED over 19% between 1990 and 2013 while taxes paid to the School Board have INCREASED, in real dollars, by more than ten percent. Yes, 19% LESS students, but 10% MORE taxes; go figure. On May 2 Caddo voters can INVEST in Caddo Parish, and for that matter themselves, by voting NO to both tax measures.

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