Meadow Heights voters reject property tax increase for schools

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

PATTON, Mo. -- Voters of the Meadow Heights School District came out overwhelmingly against a ballot issue to raise the tax rate and ease budget concerns.

After a tough budget year that included state cuts in formula funding and transportation, among other areas, the district posed voters with a 50 cent tax increase per $100 of assessed valuation in the operating levy. It is currently at $2.75, the minimum required by the state.

"We were hopeful that it would pass but not surprised that it didn't," said Superintendent Rob Huff. "I feel good that we gave people the opportunity."

Votes came in at 273 for and 482 against the issue.

The district delayed a bus purchase, combined classrooms in an elementary grade level and did not give teachers raises as it worked to balance its $4.6 million budget. District officials said it was important to give voters the opportunity to weigh in on a tax increase if future cuts were possible.

They held three informational forums to educate voters on the issue, which would have raised the tax rate to $3.60 per $100 assessed valuation. The tax rate also includes 35 cents levied to pay off district debt.

During the forums, voters also gave input on other ways to cut the budget, if needed.

"The biggest concern people had was the economy, that everybody's having to tighten their belts," he said.

The last time district voters went to the polls for a ballot issue was four years ago to approve a $1.5 million bond issue that did not increase the tax rate.

Moving forward, Huff said the district will minimize the affects to students.

"Whatever cuts we have to make in the future, we want it to have the least impact on the kids," Huff said.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

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