Avoyelles School Board adopts resolutions on proposed legislation

Opposes state collection of sales taxes; favors MFP increase

Adoption of two resolutions concerning proposed state legislation lets the public and Legislature know where the Avoyelles Parish School Board stands on the issues of increasing state funding for public schools and on the state collecting sales taxes for all local governments.

However, Superintendent Blaine Dauzat told board members it would actually be more effective for them to contact any state legislators they may know and urge them to vote for the increased funding and against centralized sales tax collection.

At its May 7 meeting, the School Board adopted a Louisiana School Board Association resolution opposing a bill to put forward a constitutional amendment to establish “state central collection” of all sales taxes for state and local government entities.

Article VII, Section 3 of the state Constitution provides for local sales and use taxes to be collected by a single local tax collector. More than 30 of the parishes use their local public school district as the parish sales tax collector.

House Bill 57 proposes to amend the Constitution to place the collection authority with the state.

Louisiana has the highest average sales tax rate at over 9.9 percent -- combining state and local sales taxes -- according to the national Tax Foundation organization.

FUNDING DELAYS

In its resolution, the School Board notes that “state central collection would have the state taking possession of local tax revenues, withholding an administrative fee, then disbursing the balance down to the School Board or other local taxing authority.”

Dauzat said he is concerned there would be a delay in the local tax revenues being disbursed to the school district and other local governments.

The resolution notes the centralized collection “poses too great a risk that local education dollars will not be promptly disbursed or that the administrative fee withheld by the state may become a means of resolving state fiscal issues.”

The resolution also states removing the local collection responsibility will “impair the ability of those local collectors to perform the necessary function of auditing vendors to ensure compliance with the legal obligation to collect and remit local sales taxes.”

Board member Rickey Adams bluntly asked what effect adopting the resolution would have.

Dauzat said that the board’s adoption would have no direct effect on whether the bill is approved or rejected, but combined with other school boards’ adoption of similar resolutions will show legislators that the public school districts are united in their opinion on this issue.

MFP INCREASE

In another Legislature-related item, the board adopted a resolution supporting the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education’s recommendation to increase funding for the state Minimum Foundation Program.

That recommended funding increase includes raises for teachers and other school employees.

The BESE recommendation was to provide another $1,000 to teachers and $500 for support personnel.

Dauzat noted the Senate Education Committee has approved a $1,200 teacher pay raise and $600 support personnel pay raise. The House has not signed on to the higher raises at this time.

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