April 29, 2015
This article is the eighteenth in this series on the Caddo Parish School Board’s tax-and-spend-and-debt plan. Here are the Top 2 Reasons to vote “NO” on Saturday. For those who missed Reasons #10 and #9, click here, and for Reasons #8, #7, and #6, here. For Reasons #5, #4, and #3, click here.
Reason #2. We Must Never Reward Misconduct, Much Less Lawbreaking, by Public Officials
Outrageously, there are times when public officials knowingly ditch the truth, intimidate employees, purposely ignore or defeat the public’s “right to know,” and even sometimes break the law, to grab (even more) taxpayer money. When they do, the public must directly act against those officials, or it’s on us.
The CPSB is guilty of all of these, and the appropriate, initial response is to vote “NO” on Saturday. Any other outcome effectively rewards our school system for its violations of public trust.
First, the CPSB has violated well established laws prohibiting public officials from the use of taxpayer funds to campaign for even more tax money.
Using school children as their messenger girls and boys, top officials sent to all parents a slickly-produced tax plan brochure which goes far over the line between imparting information, and advocacy. Such is against the law, and if the board and staff do not know it, their infamously high pay to their attorney is wasted.
Too, the CPSB has broken the law by installing campaign signs well within 600-feet of Saturday’s polling places. These “marquee” signs hawk what goodies those schools will score if the plan passes. Put simply, the signs expose the underbelly – the quid pro quo – of this vote, proclaiming as if a virtue how to vote against the greater good: “The hell with the rest of ’em, get yours here!!”
The Caddo Parish Board of Election Supervisors will soon meet to determine how best to remedy the violation before Saturday voting. What action will be taken for the prohibited brochures is yet unknown.
Second, there is the loud and proud refusal by CPSB top bosses to answer the public’s questions in the forums it held to explain its awful plan. Literally, nothing in my long career comes close to the way these top officials proudly stiffed those who pay the system’s destructively high taxes. (Read Reason #8, here.)
Third, principals were ordered by still-denying top CPSB administrators to send their scanned signatures to those bosses to be used on a pro-tax plan flyer students take home to parents. When one principal asked to first see what she was “signing,” she was told: “I must advise you that you are an employee of the district and this is a refusal of request.” So much for professional respect, not to mention overt intimidation.
As the CPSB violators slap themselves on the back for their prowess in the dark political arts, they might consider the lasting damage such has done.
Reason #1. Vote “NO” to Save Caddo Parish from Death by Taxes
Four years ago, I went public with my research into Shreveport and Caddo Parish property taxes, and how much higher they are than in other Louisiana cities and parishes. I began with a segment on a news program of Louisiana Public Broadcasting, shown here.
The reaction from local powers crushed the likelihood of reform, other than by direct taxpayer action. Rather than positively respond to the obvious damage such high property taxes have done, the reaction has been the oldest and most self-defeating: shoot the messenger. What the poobahs ignore is now well-proven: our economic stagnation is perched on the edge of real decline as high property taxes stamp out growth.
The data in this table – here – demonstrates the fact:
1. Between 1983 and 2013, the most recent year of subject data, the Total Assessed Value of all property in Caddo Parish increased only 6.77% above the rate of inflation.
2. On the other hand, the Total of Parish & Local Taxes we pay have risen 71.67% over inflation.
3. Therefore, the percentage increase in taxes paid by Caddo Parish residents is 10.6-times the percentage increase in the value of all Caddo Parish property. Too-high taxes obliterate economic expansion.
4. As compared to our 10.6-times taxation versus expansion, that multiple in East Baton Rouge Parish is 3.4-times, and is 3.1-times in Bossier and Ouachita Parishes, 2.5-times in DeSoto, 2.3-times in Calcasieu, and 1.8-times in Rapides Parish.
Our local government bodies are an unmatched taxing machine. How we are taxed has devastated our economy, accelerating population out-migration, and simultaneously killing taxpayer in-migration.
The machine is devouring this – our – place. The Caddo Parish School Board is its engine.
(Elliott Stonecipher is in no way affiliated with any political party. He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article. His work is strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.)