by Elliott Stonecipher
Many, I do mean many, of you have contacted me about the Caddo Parish School Board administration’s red-hot (not in a good way) tax proposal. It is rare – and joyous! – to get so many questions, and hear so many comments, about any tax proposition in Caddo Parish and Shreveport.
I wrote about this latest tax whopper from CPSB back in December, and intended to wait until after the school board’s vote on it January 20th before writing again, but the sheer amount of heat being generated by this one altered that plan.
This will be short on numbers, since plenty undigested ones are in my December article.
1. The new members of the CPSB – 50% of the Board – are, I can attest, expected by many / most of those who elected them, to stop this soon-to-be runaway train. They may or may not intend to do so.
This is, after all, just common sense, even here in Caddo Parish. I supported any and all “new” members before their elections, and am still catching hell for it. Of course, I catch hell for all of this work, but this particular hell is nastier than usual. There is a lot of bad blood “out there,” by way of defeated candidates, teacher unions, anti-Establishment Caddoans (Oh, Dear Lord, I love them!) and property tax payers who are sick to damned death of being used like an ATM by every pol elected in Caddo Parish.
Here’s my appeal to new Board members: Please do not vote to put this proposal forward. If you rubber-stamp such a plan without spending even a few months (if not a couple of years) first studying what this system is doing to Caddo residents, your credibility is shot all to hell, before you start. As it now stands, it looks for all the world as if this tax proposal was agreed to by these new members even before they were elected. That would mean, too, that the political action committee which selected and largely funded their campaigns was in on the deal. (SEE #3, below.)
2. This CPSB administration Plan makes no sense.
No matter anything else, if such a plan comes from elected officials and their staff, I want to see and understand the numbers, all of them. Basing decisions on anything else, anymore, is foolish. The numbers I have on this plan, so far, make no sense.
Elected officials are hard at work, perhaps especially here in Caddo Parish, trying to separate taxpayers from their money. Knowing this as we do, when a taxation plan cannot be understood the responsible action is to kill it, as near on-sight as is possible.
What I see, hear and suspect at this point, makes me ill: this proposition seems to be all about building new schools – the last thing CPSB should do before a bunch of them are closed – to keep an existing construction millage on the books, without letting it die and giving taxpayers a break.
The politician’s mantra is to “never let a tax die!” This millage is about capital projects, and has been steadily paid down for years. This awful concoction appears to be about building more stuff for the sake of never letting that millage expire.
3. All the usual suspects – who revere taxes – are onboard. Others of us are sick of this.
This is a biggie. When Shreveport / Caddo’s usual suspects jump aboard such taxation trains, basically as a social / political knee-jerk reaction, I have learned: JUST SAY NO! It is very important to always remember this: we have a city/parish rolling over into likely permanent decline because our taxes are outlandishly high, and headed higher (think Mayor Tyler after you think CPSB, to the extent that they are different). Our usual suspects only know to support virtually every tax proposition that has come down the pike for generations!
4. Have you heard CPSB mention the 30-ish mills of property tax heading our way from them next year?
No? Me either! How can we take at face value the taxation proposition of a group which doesn’t bother to tell us the WHOLE story, in this case including the property tax vote we will be hit with next year, right after this one. Too, if we defeat this one, they – like our wayward Caddo Commission – may well force us to vote on it again. That’s what elected officials do here when you try to cut off the money gusher we provide them.
We vote more on taxes in Caddo Parish and Shreveport than any place outside New York and California. ‘You remember Russell Long’s epic, “don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fella behind the tree”? We who live here in the “Great Caddo-Shreveport Tax Forest” ARE the tree … and the fella, and the gal!
5. If the CPSB wins, Caddo Parish loses, taxpayers especially.
Anything – a n y t h i n g – done to generate taxes in Caddo Parish, by any elected officials, which does not lower our by-far highest property taxes in the state is, well, stupid! If we don’t give ourselves a story to tell to attract new taxpayers, our future is pure decline. When they see our property tax, they go to East Texas if possible, and Bossier or DeSoto Parishes if they have to be in Louisiana. Such is pure fact.
Remember this, if nothing else: we need more taxpayers. We do not need to keep running them out of here because they have had enough of horribly high property taxes! The CPSB must replace a good part of their highest-in-Caddo 75-mills of property tax with an expansion of the tax base, swapping those tax revenue dollars for dollars generated by our remaining sales tax between 8.6% and the 9.0% norm.
… More later …
(Elliott Stonecipher is in no way affiliated with any political party. He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article. His work is strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.)