- Elliott Stonecipher
- Elliott Stonecipher
March 20, 2016
This is the first in a series of articles about extraordinarily high Caddo Parish property taxes, the result of which is an economy – a culture – aberrantly propped-up by our local governmental bodies. Here, our most honest motto would be, “Caddo Parish … Government By and For Government!”
This research is about the April 9th vote on the Caddo Parish School Board’s latest property tax deception, but it digs much deeper … down and into root causes of the tax-and-spending orgy which has long branded our place.
For decades, our “leaders” have driven local property taxes far, far higher than elsewhere in our state and broader region. Such has put a cockamamie political scheme in place of a vibrant local economy.
Our most remarkable (and toxic) features nowadays are grossly high property taxes, our highest-in-Louisiana number of failed / failing public schools, and our infamous and deepening public corruption. The three are, of course, interdependent.
A small confederacy at our political, business and social apex nurtures this community-defeating beast while benefiting themselves. Most notably, these “leaders” steadily tap local government budgets … regardless that most citizens have no idea who they are, much less what they are doing.
To run the place, these “leaders” recruit, elect and control local government officials who salute them, with the dirtiest of that work done by notable surrogates and political action committees. Too, they are tight with most media owners / bosses, a hedge against wrong “news” reaching and infecting us lowly taxpayers.
Public corruption, of course, is wholly tolerated in this concoction. The law? Pish posh! It is a very rare corrupt official here who forgets where the Cover Store is, or how their bill is paid.
Regardless their power, the group’s long con may be seizing-up. In 2013 and 2014, voters rejected two successive Caddo Commission taxation attempts. Then, the group’s lusted-after centerpiece – its $25,000,000 Southeast Shreveport School – was defeated. For that op, a new school boss was needed, and the group bankrolled campaigns to elect four of their very own new board members. Those proxies quickly voted for the new school op … at the same meeting in which they took their Oaths of Office.
Too, Caddo Commission corruption has been exposed for state and federal agencies to see. Fighting back, though, these downtown ladies and gents robbed the moment to reassert their control by putting a few of their very own Commissioners in place. Included are the new top officers. Resurgent corruption ahead!
To do their do, these “leaders” must have full public coffers. Thus, our stupidly high property and other taxes. The gambit may well have run aground, however. Rising taxes fed an out-migration of major employers / jobs, after which property taxes were raised to cover the losses. Then, more out-migration, followed by more property taxes, and so forth and so forth.
Approval on April 9th of this latest school system property tax load will trigger the next cycle down.
Even with a birth-to-death ratio of 1.5-to-1.0, Caddo’s population is -12,050 (-4.6%) smaller than when oil prices calamitously collapsed in 1986: 264,653 residents then, 252,603 now. In that time, U.S. population has grown +29.2%.
In the three-decade period 1983-2013, the (inflation-adjusted) total assessed value of all Caddo property rose only 6.8%. Over the same period, though, we voted on ourselves a 71.7% increase in (inflation-adjusted) property taxes. In other words, we increased property taxes almost 11-times as much as our increase in the assessed value of all parish property, a proxy for economic growth.
Our ability to compete for prime private sector jobs is gone. Would-be newcomer businesses and residents need only a routine internet search to nix us as they see our dramatically higher taxes.
Nothing better demonstrates that folly than how we fund the Caddo Parish school system. Our 75.36-mill property tax given to our “schools” is so extraordinarily high that most people quite literally cannot believe it.
1. Speaking to our heart for our children, since we last voted this tax package on ourselves in 2006, we handed our Caddo schools total tax revenue just under $4.5 Billion dollars – $4,462,228,065 to be exact.
2. Increases well above inflation have fed per-pupil spending every year since 2006. Our “school” system spent $8,874 per pupil then, and $11,893 per pupil in 2013-2014, the latest data available, an increase of +34%. (Half the increase is on top of inflation … calculator here.)
3. Our Caddo Parish schools property tax is the highest in the state.* (SEE data here, scroll to “Rates & Millages). It is …
… 46% higher than those same taxes in Bossier Parish,
… 81% higher than the City of Monroe District,
… 146% higher than Calcasieu
… 74% higher than East Baton Rouge
… 232% higher than Jefferson
… 72% higher than Orleans
… 85% higher than Ouachita
… 55% higher than Rapides.
… In Part II, a “school system” morphs into something else (and bad) …
* Technically, the tiny, 6-school, “A”-graded Zachary Community District has a slightly higher millage than Caddo Parish schools.
(Elliott Stonecipher is a registered “Other,” or Independent. 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.)