Board of Trustees Frank Feeley and Frank Ford during Tuesday's meeting
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Picayune School Board of Trustees, Board members were adamant that the district will not be asking for a tax increase for the coming year.
When the meeting came to agenda item “Consider Ad Valorem Tax Resolution”, Board Chairman Frank Ford asked District Finance Director Lisa Persick “Are we asking for additional millage?”
Persick responded, “I don’t know, we don’t have the figures yet from the county. I tried to get some figures and basically the county’s letting their contract out for personal property to someone and they don’t have those figures back. They have everything else. They have real, the auto, the utilities, but they didn’t want to release it yet.”
Ford responded, “Then, we are not ready to vote on this, correct?”
Persick stated, “That’s up to you all. I mean it’s not a padded ad valorem tax request. I can’t say it will or will not raise taxes as it’s what we are asking for in dollars and I haven’t seen what the assessed valuation may be. I just know what it is now, so that’s up to you all.”
Board member Frank Feeley asked, “Is this the same mills we asked for last year?”
Persick answered saying, “No, it’s more. It’s more dollars and then they take our dollars and equate to mills.”
Board Vice Chairperson, Dr. Lori Blackmer asked, “Basically, we are asking for a certain amount?”
Persick explained to the board how the amount is determined for the estimate.
“We are asking for a dollar amount which includes what we have already received because we have to look at the tax revenue based on the county schedule. So that ad valorem request is consistent of what we have actually received from October through May. Then I take June through September and I estimate what I think it will be. And the way I do that, I take last June through September receipts and I add ten percent. I’ve always done that. And then I put in the new program money which is the increase in local contribution under $18,000.00. I do not put any percentage on the base; I do not put any percentage on the growth or any new growth. So it’s really a very basic request. It’s a very minimal amount of money.”
Ford asked, “Just so I’m clear on this, if we vote to approve this, we are not voting for a tax increase at this point?”
Persick answered, “I can’t tell you. We could revisit in August, but at this point, I can’t tell you.”
Feeley then asked, “How much more money are we asking for versus last year?”
Persick responded, “Last year, it was like $8.4 (million) and this year it’s $9.0 (million).”
Feeley clarified, “So $600,000.00.”
Ford then asked Persick to validate that the board could vote to accept the amount today, but it is not binding.
Persick concurred that it is not binding at this time. She explained that once the final numbers are in for the assessed property evaluation, the board can go back and revisit the request before she submits the final request. She said that the board took action in the same manner last year. Persick stated that the district has not increased taxes the past three years.
Feeley quickly responded, “We want to make it four” in reference to the district not asking for a tax increase for the coming year.
The board made a motion and voted to accept the numbers for now with the intent to revisit the numbers once the actual numbers are available in the August timeframe.
In other action, the board approved a final payment for the roofing project at Southside Elementary. Maintenance Department Supervisor Arnold Smith told the board the work on the project is down to a punch list and he estimated it to be 98% complete. Smith said there was one more small flat roof repair to be done on the small building attached to the auditorium.
The Board voted to go into executive session on items moved to executive session during the meeting.