Editor's Note - 9/26/12 2:30 p.m. - This story incorrectly represented school board member Richard Franz's proposed tax rates. The wrong information has been removed from the story. The issue is being corrected, and a correction will be issued as soon as possible. We regret the error.
The commercial real estate tax rate for 2012 has been corrected. The original number of $4.0081 was incorrect.
The Board of Education for the Mehlville School District voted Tuesday night to approve increasing the tax rates.
The new tax rates are:Levy Type 2012 Tax Rate 2011 Tax Rate Real Estate - Residential $3.6494 $3.6634 Real Estate - Agricultural $4.0920 $4.0897 Real Estate - Commercial $3.5716 $3.4372 Personal Property $4.0081 $3.9678 Blended Rate $3.6881 $3.6661
The blended rate is a combination of the four tax levies (residential, agricultural, commercial and personal property) used by state officials. The blended rate increased by $.0220.
The increase will mean an additional $1 million in revenue for the district over the next two years.
The rates will remain the same for the next two years.
The revenue from the tax will be divided into four areas: special (teacher's) fund, general (incidental) fund, capital and debt service.
Residents Speak Up
The tax hearing drew enough interested parents, teachers and residents to fill the school board hearing room, but only two people addressed the board.
Jim Murphy, who said he's been examining the district's budget since the last finance committee meeting, said it was unacceptable for the district to build a budget assuming the taxes would increase when the board had not yet held a public hearing on the new tax rates.
"The most alarming is the revelation that the school district prepared and approved a budget while making an assumption of a tax increase prior to any public hearings on the issue," Murphy said in a prepared statement. "I feel this is disrespectful to the Mehlville taxpayers and is not acceptable."
Dave Wessel, representing the John Cary Early Childhood Center's parent-teacher organization, raised the point that parents are helping schools afford necessary tools and supplies. Wessel said his group has raised and spent $25,000 over six years to bring supplies like safety walkie-talkies to classrooms.
Read Wessel's Letter to the Editor about this issue on Mehlville-Oakville Patch.
Several of the parents, teachers and residents at the meeting said they'd wanted to speak up for or against the tax increase but either didn't know speakers must register before the meeting or were too late to sign up.
Last night was Deb Rieger's first Mehlville school board meeting. Rieger said she wanted to tell the board she is against a tax increase, but she simply didn't know the protocol for presenting to the board.
The school district's vote to increase tax rates is allowed under an 1985 vote that set a ceiling for rate increases. The current rates are about 10 cents below that ceiling.
School board member Richard Franz, who voted against the tax increase, disagreed with using a 26-year-old vote to determine current tax rates.
"When the voters approved that, it was a different world," Franz said. "We weren't sitting on an $18 million surplus. We weren't sitting on the current economic situation on either the national, the community level or even the district here."