R-XIII Taking Long Look at Tax Levy Hike - The Missourian: Local News

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R-XIII Taking Long Look at Tax Levy Hike

School District Residents Must Approve Increase

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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 8:00 am | Updated: 6:58 pm, Sat Jun 22, 2013.

If assessed valuation would remain about the same in the St. Clair R-XIII School District, a 25-cent tax levy increase on residences would bring about $367,308 into the district’s coffers. A 30-cent hike would add $440,769.

And, if the school district would opt to seek a 68-cent upswing, which would bring the figure to the state’s targeted performance amount, almost $1 million would be available for the administration to use for budgeting purposes.

Those figures were tossed around by board of education members last month as the district discusses possible ways to increase revenue in a still-tight economy.

St. Clair R-XIII has used a $2.75 operating fund tax levy since the 2004-2005 academic year. The amount currently is the state’s minimum figure allowed and includes a 70-cent teachers fund.

Any increase in that specific fund would have to be approved by voters, and the board of education would have to decide by the middle of January whether to put any kind of an increase measure on the April ballot.

St. Clair also uses a 62-cent debt service tax levy. District officials control that amount and can raise or lower it to a certain point without voter approval. It has been 62 cents since 2001-2002.

The tax rates all are based on per $100 of assessed valuation.

“A school district has two main sources of funds, local and state,” said Terry Morrow, vice president of LJ Hart Co., the firm that assists R-XIII with its financial planning. “You need to ask yourselves how you’re going to get the funding to educate your kids.”

School districts also get federal funding, but that is a smaller piece of the revenue pie.

State Funding

With the struggling economy, state education funding steadily has dropped over the last few years. Information Morrow shared during November’s school board meeting showed that the proration factor of the state’s funding program has dropped from 98 percent in Fiscal Year 2011 to 96 percent in 2012 to 92 percent in the current year.

That means, Morrow said, that for every $1 the state owes a school district through the funding formula, it now receives 92 cents on that $1.

“It’s not as complicated as it seems,” Morrow said. “But it looks like it’s not going to be getting significantly better.”

The state funding formula was created through the Missouri Legislature in 2005 and was developed to address adequacy in funding public school systems. Morrow said it was designed to provide the funding necessary for an adequate education based on the spending practices of successful schools, also known as performance districts.

He added that characteristics of performance districts were used to develop a baseline for adequacy targets, weighted average daily attendance and a performance tax levy. The adequacy target then was derived from the average per-pupil expenditures of performance districts.

Through all that, it was determined that the state performance levy is $3.43, or 68 cents below what R-XIII currently is receiving.

Regionally, St. Clair’s $2.75 operations tax levy is the lowest, along with Crawford County R-II. Meramec Valley and Washington tax levies are the highest amount at $3.62 and $3.49, respectively.

In addition, Morrow said, St. Clair’s per-pupil expenditure of $7,944 ranks 449th out of 558 school districts in the state. The list includes charter schools and is based on Fiscal Year 2011 figures, which are the latest the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses. 

Increase

Superintendent Mike Murphy told board members that assessed valuation in Franklin County is staying about the same every year or increasing slightly. The latest figures for R-XIII are in the $146 million range, he said.

“I think we need to give some consideration to a tax levy increase,” he said in introducing Morrow.

Currently, according to additional information Morrow shared, a home valued at $100,000 in the district would pay an additional yearly operating tax of $47.50 if a 25-cent increase was approved. That computes to an extra $3.96 per month. A $150,000 home would see an increase of $71.25 per year, or $5.94 a month. If a home is valued at $200,000, the increases would be $95 and $7.92, respectively.

At 30 cents, a $100,000 home would be assessed an additional $57 per year or $4.75 per month. Figures for a $150,000 home would be $85.50 annually or $7.13 monthly. Increases for a $200,000 home would be $114 and $9.50, respectively.

Finally, if the district would decide and voters would approve the 68-cent increase, taxes on a home with a market value of $100,000 would increase by $129.20 annually or $10.77 monthly. A home worth $150,000 would increase $193.80 per year or $16.15 per month. At $200,000 the hikes would be $258.40 and $21.53, respectively.

If a proposed increase would be put on a ballot, it would require a simple majority for passage. The board decided it would discuss the issue more in depth next month and seek to make a decision on how to proceed.

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