Tax levy increase aids district's operating budget

Thursday, March 8, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:27 p.m. CST, Thursday, March 8, 2012

This is part of the Missourian's school board election coverage; for complete coverage, click here.

COLUMBIA — On April 3, Columbia residents will vote on two proposals that would help aid the school district's budget and fund future projects.

The Columbia School Board wants to raise funds through a bond issue and tax levy increase. The board voted at its Jan. 9 meeting to put both items on the April 3 ballot.

Here is some information to help you brush up on the tax levy. For information on the bond issue, check out our other Q&A.

What is a tax levy increase?

A tax levy increase would come from property taxes in Columbia.

The current tax levy is $4.08 per $100 of assessed valuation of real and personal property. The proposed levy increase of 40 cents to $4.48 would bring about $8 million more in revenue for the school district.

District spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said the tax increases would affect commercial and residential property owners within district boundaries, but the taxes would be felt differently because business-owners and homeowners are taxed at different rates.

Linda Quinley, the district's chief financial officer, said homes are taxed based on assessed value, which is 19 percent of the home's actual value. Businesses are also taxed based on assessed value, but the rate is 32 percent of the property's value.

The tax levy increase requires a simple majority of voter approval to pass. Baumstark said that since 1990, the district has asked voters to increase the property tax levy four times. Voters approved three increases, but rejected the most recent proposal in April 2008.

How will the additional revenue be used?

Funds generated by the tax levy increase would be used to help pay operating costs. According to Columbia Public Schools, this would include sustaining current programs, maintaining and improving class sizes, meeting students needs and addressing technology needs in the classroom 

Quinley said the $8 million would also help cover declining state funding to the district as well as rising costs.

Superintendent Chris Belcher said $4 million would help the district keep up with inflationary cuts, $2 million would be used to re-hire employees and $2 million would go toward finding ways to fund classroom technology, according to a previous Missourian article.

How will passing the levy increase affect taxes already being paid?

The bond issue, which includes the debt service levy increase, and tax levy increase are two different ballot items to be approved separately. However, if both pass, it would result in a 52-cent tax increase.

According to the district, this means a person who owns a home with an assessed value of $150,000 would pay $148.20 more annually, or $12.35 monthly.

How is a tax levy increase different from the debt service levy increase?

The tax levy increase is an increase in the property tax rate to generate an additional $8 million for the district. The debt service levy is the way in which the district would pay back the debt from the bond issue.

What's next?

Quinley said the district has no plans at this time to increase the property tax levy after this year. The bond issue and tax levy will be put up to a public vote April 3.

Back to main School Board Election 2012 page


Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Mike Martin March 9, 2012 | 9:38 a.m.

Voters need to remember that all this talk about what the tax levy may or may not be used for is just that: talk.

Bond money was supposed to pay for air conditioning. "The money for air conditioning comes from the bond issue voters approved in 2010," this story explains.

Instead, money from a tax levy increase last August went to pay for "stalled" air conditioning projects, while CPS built a huge new $7.8 million admin addition never discussed during the push for bond money in previous years.

That admin building ended up costing more than DOUBLE a price previously discussed:

Another illustration of how the focus on costly new construction has gotten out of control, at the expense of virtually everything else, from teacher pay to a/c.

Most organizations only dream of having nearly $8 million to drop on an entire new HQ, let alone just an addition.

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis April 2, 2012 | 2:59 p.m.

@ Mike I agree every time we turn around the school board is telling us they need more money! This is crazy! I say enough is enough people are struggling to hold on to their homes and jobs can't they see that is there any compassion for the times? No they just need more money...while CPS built a huge a $7.8 million admin. wing! Are you kidding??? I personally think so many think this administration has become a joke after that epic fail, I guess we'll just have to wait and see if the votes agree?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin April 2, 2012 | 4:16 p.m.

Interesting point. If it has seemed like CPS is always asking voters for more money, it's true -- every two years, in fact.

Before, however, bond debt averaged about $20 million every two years, and built many new schools for much lower prices. Now, bond debt has shot up dramatically, with tax hikes following to pay it off. Teacher pay and student priorities, on the other hand, are lagging these giant construction projects, which in the end have become full employment acts for large developers.

1992 -- $15 million bond, including $7.2 million to build Gentry Middle School.

1994 -- $12.6 million bond, including $7.5 million to build Smithton Middle School.

1996 -- $12.75 million bond, including $8.3 million to build Lange Middle School.

1998 -- $19.9 million bond including $7.8 million to expand and renovate Rock Bridge HS.

2000 -- $35 million bond, including $10.7 million to build Paxton-Keeley Elementary School.

2002 -- $23.8 million

2004 -- $22.5 million

Now, bond debt is doing this:

2007 -- $60 million, including roughly $40 million to build Alpha Hart Elementary

2010 -- $120 million, including roughly $80 million to build Battle High.

2012 -- $50 million

2014 -- $50 million

Future plans call for:

2016 -- $40 million

2018 -- $40 million

2020 -- $40 million


(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.