Wednesday, December 11 2013 2:07 AM EST2013-12-11 07:07:15 GMT
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BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) -
A Bossier Parish judge has ruled in favor of the Bossier Parish School Board, defending itself against a lawsuit alleging fraud in connection with a tax proposal approved by voters in April.
The lawsuit, filed by Bossier Parish attorney John Settle, accused the school board of using public funds to influence the vote for a $210 million construction bond that passed on April 21st. Settle claimed the school board used tax dollars to buy billboards with the message "Grow with us," the campaign slogan for the tax renewal.
The plaintiffs contended that the Bossier Parish School Board violated Louisiana laws by circulating false and misleading information on the district web site as well as by letter and email regarding raising tax rates to pay for these new propositions.
That part of the suit was thrown out by Bossier Parish District Judge Jeff Cox on Monday, as Cox found that misappropriation of public funds would be a criminal matter that would need to be brought by the district attorney's office.
Settle also argued that the school board misled voters when they said that their taxes would not go up. 2012 is a reassessment year, where the millage stays the same. However, if an individual's property is reassessed at a higher value, Settle argued their property taxes will increase.
The suit called for the results of the election thrown out. Settle says he expects to appeal.
The school board says voters knew what they were voting for, especially considering the fact that they chose not to pass the two others.
In his ruling, Judge Cox agreed, pointing out that no voters came forward to testify that they had been misled regarding the propositions up for vote, and that no evidence was set forth that would indicate the results of the election would have been any different had any alleged irregularities been rectified.
In a statement released by the Bossier Parish School Board Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent D.C. Machen said, "We are grateful for the public's vote of confidence and for its awareness of our growth needs. Bossier Parish has been blessed with an ever-increasing population and our schools have experienced a corresponding growth in student enrollment.
While we understand the law allows a citizen to file certain legal challenges, we are confident the public's desire for better schools, as represented by the election results, will be upheld."
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Tuesday, December 10 2013 1:17 PM EST2013-12-10 18:17:03 GMT
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