Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
JEFFERSON PARISH, La. - Voters rejected a series of tax proposals on Saturday's ballot in Jefferson Parish, including a 7-mill property tax millage for public schools, the loss of which education leaders had said would be "devastating."
Voters defeated the school tax millage renewal by a margin of 2,603 votes, with complete but unofficial returns showing voters defeating the tax 52 to 48 percent.
Two other tax millages, one for sewerage and one for water service, also failed.
The school tax generates more than $23 million annually. It funds general operating costs for the district and is about 30 percent of the total amount the district collects in property taxes.
Jefferson Parish Public Schools are operating on a tight budget. Last year, several schools were closed and hundreds of employees were laid off to close a $25 million gap.
School board leaders had tried to push for the tax renewal, saying more cuts would come if the tax were defeated.
“We cannot take a cut of that magnitude in order for us to be able to provide the services that families need,” said Superintendent James Meza in an interview last weekend.
Jefferson Parish homeowners already pay the tax, but the tax is set to expire next year.
The property tax accounts for about 5 percent of the school district's budget. It helps pay for textbooks and salaries.