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Lindbergh sets new tax rate


By ROBERT CHALUPNY

Staff Reporter

A "blended''2003-2004 tax rate totaling $2.95 per $100 of assessed valuation recently was adopted by the Lindbergh Board of Education.

However, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Pat Lanane told the Board of Education that no one will actually pay that blended rate because it is combination of four tax rates.

This year, for the first time, governmental entities in St. Louis County are required to calculate separate tax rates for residential, agricultural, commercial and personal property, Lanane explained.

The four rates, including debt service, are: residential, $2.90; commercial, $2.96; agricultural, $4.26; and personal property, $3.08, according to Lanane.

The new system of computing the tax rate, mandated by Missouri House Bill 1150, will benefit residential taxpayers, Lanane said at the Aug. 26 Board of Ed-ucation meeting.

"I think very good news for the residential taxpayers and the intent of that bill was to stop the practice which allowed all assessed value to be put into one category whereby increases for residential assessment offset losses for commercial property. When that happened that was exactly the reason people would get 30 percent assessment increases and actually ended up paying 30 percent for taxes," he said.

In June, an operating budget for the 2003-2004 school year that projects more than $2.4 million in deficit spending as part of a planned spend down of district reserves was approved by the board.

This is the second year of the planned spend down of district reserves. The district's previous tax rate of $2.77 per $100 of assessed valuation included a voluntary rollback of 27.4 cents. In establishing the 2003-2004 tax rate, that voluntary rollback was reduced.

"The minimum legal tax rate in this state is $2.75," Lanane said. "We can choose to roll below that and there's really no penalty, but that is the stated legal minimum and to the extent that any district is below that because of a Prop C roll back they may recoup those cents up to $2.75, that does not include debt service."

Board Vice President Barry Cooper suggested at the meeting that the district might want to consider raising the rate more than it agreed to raise it.

"As we look at what the projections are for the next couple of years. I think the board has generally had the philosophy over the last 10 years or so perhaps just to take what we need in terms of the tax rate," Cooper said.

"Then it's pretty clear we're into a different cycle now and the economy and other things have impacted us and as we look forward here it's pretty clear here that we're into what I would view as a timing situation in terms of how quickly we take the rollback money available which really cascades into the next issue which is how soon is the next operating tax levy and probably nobody wants to talk about that but you know we've gone forever in this district," Cooper said.

"Just think how things have ratcheted up, since the last time we had an operating revenue increase and you know nobody wants to pay more taxes, but we can either hold down the rate and run at a higher deficit which is going to push us toward having to have a tax levy quicker or we can take more of the rollback money and perhaps defer.

"But it's pretty clear in my mind that that's what the impact is and what road we're on, absent some type of large scale change in our tax base or additional funding from the state, which we don't get a whole lot of anyway or a change, a significant change in expenditure levels and so I just want to call that to the boards attention." Cooper said.

"We were all handed a pretty good financially sound district and I think I speak for the board when I say we want to keep it that way, but I mean that's, that's what the numbers are telling us," he said.

Board President Larry McIntosh said he didn't want to see the board take more than 17 cents from the rollback.

"Our initial discussion was that we were going to use one-third to one-half of the roll back," McIntosh said.

"You've got half from the original with the Prop C opportunity to get to $2.75 that gives us a little bit more so we can easily go from 14 cents, which you've recommended here to 17 cents and drop about $300,000 more," he said

"I'm reluctant to go much higher than that, because we did have the additional 10 cents passed by our community for the building fund, So that would represent 27 cents to our taxpayers, which would be softened by the splitting up the different properties and the different classifications.

"So I think that's kind of a middle of the road. I know that we could go more or we could go less I do not want to see us pull over 2.5 million out of the reserve at the bottom line end of the day," McIntosh said.

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