Ferg. – Flor. School District Will Place Tax Levy on August 5 Ballot
The F-F School District has announced it will seek an operating tax levy increase during the upcoming August 5 election. Voters will be asked to approve Proposition S, an overall tax rate ceiling increase of $0.50 per $100 of property’s assessed value.
The District is seeking the increase in order to maintain and protect current instructional programs and staffing which would otherwise be negatively impacted by a projected $7 million deficit caused by declining property values and reductions in state funding.
After the defeat of a measure requesting a $.75 increase last year, the District conducted community surveys seeking the input of students, families and residents. Feedback received indicated that the referendum was widely considered to be too costly and unclear to taxpayers.
This time around, if passed, the cost of a 50-cent increase on a home valued at $100,000 would be $4.37 per month, or $52.40 per year. Last year’s proposed levy would have cost the same homeowner more than $140 per year. Prior to last year, the District has not placed an operating tax levy before voters in 22 years.
Board president Robert Chabot says he understood the community’s rejection of the higher levy amount, but hopes voters will see the critical importance of investing in the local schools.
“The correlation between the quality of our schools and our community is very clear. We are facing unprecedented challenges that we can no longer endure without affecting the quality of our schools. Proposition S is about ensuring we are strong for both our students and our community.”
The operating levy pays for the day-to-day operations of the district, such as teacher and staff salaries, transportation and textbooks. The debt service levy pays the principal and interest on bond issues which fund large capital improvements, including building repairs, additions and new facilities. Missouri law and federal tax regulations make it illegal for a school district to use debt service funds generated by this portion of its tax levy to pay for expenditures in the operating budget.
The District’s 2014-2015 budget has already been reduced by $5 million. Chabot acknowledges that many of the cuts have been painful. “There have been no “sacred cows” in this process. Everything has been examined closely, and in the process we have had to make some very difficult decisions to preserve the financial health of the District. We have eliminated preschool transportation, restructured staffing and departments, and slashed funding for after-school activities, athletics and fine arts, just to name a few things,” he said.
Chabot says further cuts would be felt even more deeply and will hurt the District’s ability to provide programs and services. These cuts may include additional reductions in staff and programs including fine arts, extracurricular activities and athletics, and transportation services.
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