Terrebonne tax increase proposed for teacher pay

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HOUMA, La. (AP) - Terrebonne Parish voters can expect to be faced with the question of providing more tax money for schools in December.

Superintendent Philip Martin says nothing has been finalized, but the district is mulling a half-cent sales tax increase, which would be used exclusively to increase teacher salaries.

The Courier reports (http://bit.ly/1qFocaH ) the district’s taxing options were discussed at a public forum on Wednesday.

Those who purchase goods in Terrebonne pay a 9-cent sales tax. Four percent of that total goes to the state while a little more than 2 cents goes to the school district, accounting for about a quarter of the district’s annual budget.

Raising that by a half cent would give the district some $12 million in recurring revenue, Martin said.

Some at the forum felt the sales tax hike would be the most fitting way to serve the district’s needs.

“We do need a fix to bring in teachers. If we want to bring in certified teachers, I like the idea of a sales tax,” said Houma resident Georgette Washington, arguing a sales tax is spread more evenly among all the parish’s residents.

Some argued because a poor resident will pay the same tax as an oilfield millionaire, it will take a greater percentage of an impoverished person’s income.

Houma resident Judy Smart argued those on fixed incomes have greater leeway to decide how much they pay through a sales tax because they can simply spend less. There is no flexibility with a property tax, she said.

Others felt a property tax would be more fitting. The parish has nearly the highest sales tax in the state, but the school district’s property tax of 9.27 mills is the lowest in the state. The statewide school district average is 40 mills.

It will be up to the school board to decide which route to take, though a sales tax looks most likely from Martin’s perspective.

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Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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