The Webster Parish School Board is seeing a steady decrease in sales taxes this year, which means less money for teachers and building maintenance.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls said it boils down to the decline in oil field tax revenue in Webster Parish and statewide.
“It’s based on what you take in, and it means a salary supplement cut for employees,” he said. “It’s not the local businesses, it’s oil and gas. It’s killing us just like it is everybody else. When the market’s down, our revenue goes down, and it’s down about 10 percent right now.”
Rawls said these sales tax collections go toward employees’ supplemental pay, not their base salaries. When the sales tax collections go down, then their supplemental check is less. If collections are more, then employees’ supplemental check is more.
The school board supplements teacher and administrative salaries through the 1969 and 1996 sales taxes. A portion of the 1969 and 1996 sales taxes goes toward instruction costs, materials, purchase of computer equipment and software and school buses. The District No. 6 half-cent sales tax is used for building maintenance and construction.
Total collections for taxable sales from all taxable goods in the parish so far this year hover around $50 million each month, although it has dipped as low as $40 million. The 1969 sales tax is a one-cent sales tax, the 1996 sales tax is a 1 percent sales tax, and the District No. 6 sales tax is a half-cent sales tax.
Rawls said the majority of collections in the half-cent sales tax are dedicated to paying for building and maintenance for schools in the Minden area.
For the 2015-16 school year to date, the school board has collected $1.3 million in the 1969 sales tax, a decrease of 9.77 percent from last year, according to the board’s sales tax report. At this time last year, the board collected approximately $1.48 million, a $145,000 difference.
The report shows that the board collected about $1.3 million for the same time frame in the 1996 sales tax, with the same decrease.
Collected in the District 6 half-cent sales tax was roughly $375,000, a 9.5 percent decline from this time last year. Last year, the board collected roughly $415,000, a difference of about $39,000.