LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (BRPROUD) — Livingston Parish residents will have the ability to vote on a new one-cent sales tax and a 10% pay raise for teachers and staff in the parish.
According to Livingston Parish School District Superintendent, Joe Murphy, he lost many school employees such as teachers and administrators to even cafeteria cooks to lower pay compared to other districts.
“Unfortunately, right now we’re experiencing a severe out-migration of employees,” said Murphy. “Employees can drive across the parish line and make $5,000 more dollars a year.”
Livingston Parish Schools is presenting a one-cent sales tax to the entire parish to help fund a 10% pay raise for all school staff for the next 20 years.
Murphy said no employee will receive less than a $2,500 pay increase with this new tax. Currently, in a six-parish region, Livingston Parish ranks sixth for beginning teachers’ pay. If the one-cent tax is approved, this would make them No. 1, the highest-paying school district in the area.
“The benefit is that we’re supporting the education in our schools and long term,” said Murphy. “Nothing is more important than the quality of the teacher that sits across that desk from that kid.”
There are three exemptions to this tax:
- paying for fuel.
- prescriptions and prescribed medical equipment.
According to Murphy, there has been some backlash toward the new sales tax proposal.
“Do you really think we could bring forth a tax and there not be opposition?” Murphy asked. “Some people are not going to vote for our tax and that’s perfectly fine.”
The tax is estimated to bring in $24 million annually, which would enable the school system to give its employees a much-needed 10% pay raise or a minimum $2,500 annual increase.
According to Anita Clark, a sixth-grade teacher at North Corbin Junior High in Walker, many teachers work more than 40 hours a week and sometimes even on weekends.
Clark is in support of the new sales tax for education staff. She said it’s been hard to afford the cost of living on her salary.
“The cost of living is not stopping,” said Clark. “But we are not increasing with that cost of living.”
This one-cent sales tax is the first new tax in Livingston Parish, solely dedicated to employee raises in 36 years.