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|School board eyes tax for fuel costs|
Even though members of the Franklin Parish School Board convened recently to hear the final audit report, the high cost of fuel topped the list of immediate concerns. The topic led to discussion of possibly asking for an additional 1/2-cent sales tax to meet the increasing cost of fuel for the school system.
The half-cent sales tax and the 15-mil property tax that passed in 2007 is dedicated to renovations and construction for Franklin Parish schools.
"We want the people to know that that tax money was for capital improvements, not operating expenses," said superintendent Lanny Johnson. "Transportation and energy costs are major problems that need to be addressed. We are losing contract drivers all the time."
Johnson stated that a 5-mil tax would be up for renewal soon and he would like to see the proposal on a future ballot to benefit the school system.
Jesse Young proposed an additional half-cent sales tax to support the looming threat of higher fuel cost.
"We could have a sales tax for 5 to 10 years on a separate proposal. A half-cent tax would generate $1 million dollars for operating expenses, but we'd like to get some feedback from the public,'' said Johnson.
Improvements already completed and underway include upgrading existing structures, as well as replacing the bleachers around the football stadium, refinishing the gym floor and the removal of asbestos from the classrooms. A new addition is scheduled for the high school that will include a bus ramp separate from the parking lot that will provide easier and safer traveling to and from Hwy. 4.
Freddy Smith of Postlethwaite & Netterville presented the board with the final auditor's report.
The audit reported expenditures for the year 2007 were $28,219,715 while revenue equaled $28,603,038. Revenue for 2006 totaled $28,188,335 while expenditures were $25,362,913. Smith stated the significant difference in expenses for 2006 was due to salaries and benefits. "Salaries affect the bottom line more than anything," said Smith.
When the schools consolidated in 2004, the fund balance sheet of the audit report listed the balance at a deficit of $1,666,964. That balance has grown in the last three years to a surplus of some $4 million.
In other business, the Franklin Parish School System has gone high-tech and outgrown its current network Thoy Leonard asked the board to consider approval for the new E-Rate contract that includes an upgrade to the current system.
"The system runs slow because it's over-loaded. We will we need this upgrade because more and more testing is going to be through E-grades and it's accessed through the Internet," said Leonard.
LSU AgCenter Extension agent Ginger Boutwell introduced Laura Bradley as the new youth development agent for the 4-H Club. A native of Jonesville, Bradley and her family have made Franklin Parish home for the past five years.
In a motion offered by Jesse Young, the presiding officers within the school board will remain in those positions for the 2007-2008 term. They are, Eddie Ray Bryan, president, Dorothy Brown, vice-president, and Richard Kelly, chaplain. Other board members include Ronnie Hatton, Jesse Young, Louise Johnson and Tim Eubanks.