15-mill property tax vote set to replace Patterson school

CENTERVILLE, La. -- The St. Mary Parish School Board called an Oct. 19 election asking residents from the Calumet Cut to Southwest Boulevard in Bayou Vista to approve a 15-mill property tax to replace Patterson Junior High School.

Included in the plans is construction of a new multi-purpose building at Hattie Watts Elementary.

The junior high is plagued with interior walls separating from exterior walls, cracks in interior and exterior walls, moisture problems and inadequate flooring. Exterior brick cracking results in water hazards, flooding and insect infestations as well as expensive loss of heating and cooling.

A 2004 structural review of the building by an outside engineering firm indicated that the then 51-year-old facility should be demolished instead of incurring any financial investment for remodeling.

At the time, engineers determined that even an extensive remodel would not be a sound financial investment in a building that is now 60-years-old.

In addition, student population growth has surged in the Patterson community, leaving schools without additional classroom space to access in the event of future expansion.

The millage, if passed, is expected to support $21 million in bonds to be paid over 20 years. A location for the new school has yet to be determined.

A taxpayer with property valued at $100,000 will incur an additional $37.50 in property taxes annually under the plan. Homes under $75,000 are exempt.

Board member Ginger Griffin of Patterson, speaking for herself and board member Marilyn LaSalle, read in a statement, “This will be a joint venture of all stakeholders: educators, business leaders and the public. We were able, with the help of this board, to borrow from the general fund for the much-needed construction of a fourth grade wing and cafeteria renovations at Hattie Watts Elementary. However, at this point we feel we need to provide the junior high students with a facility that presents a safe, secure and innovative learning environment. To do so is going to require that we pass a 15-mill property tax.”

LaSalle added that they know citizens will have questions or concerns about the millage.

To that end, a town hall meeting will be called at a later date.

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