School board members Kenneth Mackie, of District 4, and Gaynell Young, board vice president, of District 1, were absent.
The 6-1 vote had board members Donnie Dykes, Dist. 8; Hubie Owen, Dist. 5; Jannie Rogers, board president, Dist. 6; Sharon Samuel, Dist. 3; Boyce Smith Jr., Dist. 7; and Scott Swilley, Dist. 2; all in favor of rolling forward with David Dayton, Dist. 9, voting against.
Finance Director (and future interim superintendent) Gordon Robertson said the vote means an increased revenue of about $140,000.
In a work session held prior to the meeting, board members discussed tabling the issue until hearing citizens' comments at the public hearing, but only two requests to speak were made.
Frank Puckett, married with no kids or grandkids in the Zachary school district, said he felt the school board should not roll the millages forward since he "lives in the highest property tax district in EBR Parish, possibly the state."
Robertson explained that a homeowner's property which has been reassessed at a higher rate may see the tax increase but only if their property value also increased.
Board member Hubie Owen added that the increase would likely come from new construction and not higher property values. "Everyone's assessed value could stay the same but the increase would likely come from new home construction," Owen said. "I can't say this for sure, but I'm pretty certain."
Had the board voted to roll the 38.2 operational millage rate to the 37.48 rate, savings on a home worth $650,000 would have been about $41 per year and about $9 on a $200,000 home.
"It's not about construction, it's about operational costs," Owen said.
State law on millages reassessed and rolled forward:
• Increasing the millage rate after reassessment/reappraisal from the adjusted maximum millage rate to a rate not in excess of the “prior year’s maximum.”
• Roll forward only occurs when the taxable property value increases at reassessment.
• Reassessment adjusts the millage rate upward or downward depending on property value.
• Bond millages are not affected by reassessment.
Yet a 2/3 vote by the board of an agency can restore the millage to the previous year's rate, thereby increasing tax revenue.
Fred Dixon, Zachary citizen, also spoke to the board July 26. "I am retired and on a fixed income. Everything goes up except my income," Dixon said at the public hearing. "As an alternate plan, maybe the sales tax could be raised instead. It always falls on the property owner."
Scott Swilley said he could sympathize. "This affects me as well. I'm sick of taxes," Swilley said. "I will be in favor in the future of rolling back any chance we can."
However, Swilley said the board took unexpected hits of $840,000 in employee health insurance and about $900,000 in prevailing pay wages. "Also, we paid out over $200,000 this summer for teachers to re-write curriculums," said Swilley.
For more on this story and action taken by the Zachary School Board on other agenda items, please pick up a copy of the Aug. 1 issue of the Zachary Plainsman.