Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

District Expects Revenue Drop to Exceed Projection

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

District Expects Revenue Drop to Exceed Projection

Article excerpt

The Orchard Farm School District expects revenue from real-estate taxes to drop even more than the $493,518 projected by the St. Charles County Assessor's Office.

Brenda Maschany, chief deputy of the real estate division of the county assessor's office, said her office had estimated flood damage to houses and other buildings in the flood plain on the basis of inspections in an area from Augusta through Orchard Farm. The office calculated the number of structures that have been condemned or were determined to be uninhabitable and used it to estimate flood damage throughout the county.

Before the flood and based on a 1992 tax rate, Orchard Farm expected to collect $1,833,616 in real estate taxes this year. Maschany said that if the tax bills were adjusted to reflect structural damage caused by the flood, Orchard Farm stood to lose $493,518.

The assessor's projections are based on assessed value of the flood-damaged property. The figures assume that flood victims who have had farms and houses destroyed will be able to pay taxes. Gary Van Meter, superintendent of the district, is not counting on it.

"I would be surprised if we collect the normal rate of taxes in our district," Van Meter said. "I just can't visualize people paying taxes in some of the places I've seen."

About 90 percent of the Orchard Farm district was under water in the summer flooding.

If the collection rate is lower than the tax bill, as Van Meter expects, he will ask the federal government to make up the difference. Van Meter said U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley encouraged him to do so when Riley visited the district last month.

The request will be part of the district's application for Sudden Impact Aid from the U.S. Department of Education. One of the goals of the disaster-relief program is to allow the federal government to offset a school district's loss of revenue as a consequence of a national disaster.

The disaster assistance is a five-year program that may at the regulator's discretion cover up to 100 percent of the lost revenue the first year, 80 percent the second year, 60 percent the third year, 40 percent the fourth year and 20 percent in the fifth and final year. …

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