EFID Board of Directors to Seek Tax

EFID Board of Directors to Seek a Limited 1-Cent Sales Tax to Fund Much-Needed School Employee Pay Raises
Posted on 11/29/2022
This is the image for the news article titled EFID Board of Directors to Seek a Limited 1-Cent Sales Tax  to Fund Much-Needed School Employee Pay Raises

EFID Board of Directors to Seek a Limited 1-Cent Sales Tax to Fund Much-Needed School Employee Pay Raises

Funding Proposition Expected to Be on March 25, 2023, Ballot


LIVINGSTON, La. – The newly formed Livingston Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District (EFID) Board of Directors voted tonight (Nov. 28) to seek voter approval of a one-cent sales tax to fund much-needed pay raises for all Livingston Parish School System employees.

              The board voted 8-1 for the measure, which calls for an across-the-board 10-percent pay raise for all employees or a minimum $2,500 yearly increase.

The proposed pay increase will allow the Livingston Parish School System to better compete for qualified personnel and to retain its best teachers and instructional staff who have become highly-targeted recruits by neighboring school systems.  Currently Livingston Parish Schools ranks dead last (out of six local districts) in pay for beginning teachers, and remains near the bottom, in 5th place, for pay for teachers with 25 years of experience. The six districts include Ascension Parish, Central Community Schools, East Baton Rouge Parish, Livingston Parish, Tangipahoa Parish and Zachary Community Schools.

              “We have looked at the books, and we’ve compared the salaries our school system currently pays to what’s being paid in neighboring school districts, and it’s clear – we’re fighting a losing battle right now,” said EFID Board Chairman Thomas “Bruiser” Bryson of Springfield, a retired SFC U.S. Army.

“We are seeing our qualified, experienced teachers leave for higher pay.  We cannot continue to have our very best teachers ‘cherry-picked’ by these other school systems,” he said. “We must do what is necessary to keep the teachers and bring in the best candidates coming out of our local colleges.”

  The proposed one-cent sales tax will be exempted from all groceries, prescriptions, and fuel sales in the parish. Also, because the EFID is given “state of emergency” funding status by the State Legislature, the one-cent sales tax will not impact those sales taxes levied by local government political entities.

“The great thing about the structure of this funding mechanism is that its impact is very small on those who are low-income or who need to watch their budgets, as it does not impact groceries, prescriptions or fuel sales,” Bryson said. “At the same time, it’s enabling us to gain greater revenue from those travelling into our parish for large retail purchases or convenience stop purchases.”

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the limited one-cent sales tax would generate approximately $24 million each year, according to parish sales projections. That amount would allow the district to budget a 10-percent pay raise, or a minimum of $2,500 per year pay increase.

“A one-cent sales tax will give us the funding we need to pay our teachers and staff and grow the instructional staff we need in our system. We can go to 1st place in the region in new teacher pay and 2nd place in the region in experience, 25-years-plus, teacher pay,” Murphy said.

              Murphy noted that EFID members have been meeting with central office staff and administrators over the past three weeks to review budget line items, existing salary structures, current revenue sources and various pay increase options.

              “Our teachers deserve to be number one in this region. Our entire parish economy is built on the backs of these people!” said EFID Board Member Kayla Johnson, of Denham Springs, a realtor in Livingston Parish.

“If our school system continues to lose people and continues to decline, then our parish will become very stagnant and begin losing many of the amenities we have gained over the years – that would mean a loss in retail options, fewer restaurants, less medical resources, and fewer jobs in our communities,” Johnson said.  “What we’re talking about is bigger than just paying teachers!”

The resolution and cooperative endeavor agreement passed by the EFID Board of Directors will be presented to the Livingston Parish School Board members in December for concurrence. School officials will work with state election officials to have the parish-wide proposition placed on the March 25, 2023, ballot.

              Those eight EFID Board members voting for the measure included Bryson and Johnson; Livingston Parish Contractor and Chamber of Commerce Board Member John Blount; Livingston Parish Real Estate Broker Lawson Covington; Albany resident and Providence Engineering employee Coty Hardy; Springfield resident and former Livingston Parish Councilman Tab Lobell; Livingston resident and industrial sales manager Brian McCaskill; and Denham Springs Certified Public Accountant Randy Smith. Scott Jones, a Walker resident and owner of Jones Signs and DigiClem Outdoor Media, voted against the measure.