Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Taxes to Rise No Matter What Options Are Picked Proposals Would Put Districts in Line for More State Aid

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Taxes to Rise No Matter What Options Are Picked Proposals Would Put Districts in Line for More State Aid

Article excerpt

Terry W. Gibbons, superintendent of the Sunrise School District, says, "We're telling people that if they vote yes, their taxes will go up. If they vote no, their taxes will go up. And if we stand still, we'll be absorbed by a neighboring school district and their taxes still will go up."

Gibbons is discussing a tax-increase proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot to allow the district to qualify for more state aid under the new foundation formula law. The Grandview School District is holding a similar special election that day.

Sunrise wants voters to approve a proposal that would increase the district's property-tax rate by 36 cents for each $100 of assessed value. Grandview is seeking passage of a proposal that would raise the tax rate by 74 cents. Neither district is asking voters directly for a tax increase. The ballot will ask voters to waive the property-tax rollback required by Proposition C, the state sales tax for education.

If voters agree, the school boards have permission to stop the rollback each year so the operating rate meets a state minimum standard. The state adjusts the standard each year to reflect assessment practices in the county. It could vary slightly from year to year.

Under the new law, a district must have an operating tax rate that meets a minimum state standard to qualify for additional state aid. In Jefferson County this year, that standard is $2.75. The operating tax rate is the total tax rate less the rate for debt service.

Grandview would gain $130,000 if voters approve a tax increase, and Sunrise would gain $160,000. Grandview would qualify for $155,000 in additional state aid, and Sunrise could pick up $190,000.

If voters reject the proposal, the new law gives the school boards authority to raise their operating tax rates to $2.75 without a vote. But the law imposes a penalty in lost state aid if the boards takes that action. That penalty next year would be $215,000 for Grandview and $180,000 for Sunrise.

If the boards do not increase the rate to the standard within four years, the law requires that their districts be merged with a district with a minimum rate by June 30, 1999. …

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