CPS Superindendent Pushes Tax Increase:"It's a really dicey issue"

Related Story

COLUMBIA -The Columbia Board of Education spelled out what voters could be looking at come April, to help fund the school district's necessary expansion projects and upkeep.

Monday's school board meeting provided the final opportunity to voice issues with a tax rate increase proposal. The board will ask voters approve a $50 million bond issue and 52-cent tax rate increase (total) in April.

The two measures that could appear on the ballot are:

1) $50 million bond and $0.12 property tax increase per $100 of assessed real property valuation. The bond wouldn't be issued until November 2014, but voters must decide in 2012. The money would go toward...

  • New Elementary School (August, 2016)
  • New Early Childhood Center (August, 2017)
  • Technology
  • Roofs and Other Improvements
  • School Building Additions

2) Operating tax levy increase by $0.40.

The levy is for operations, and the bond levy increase is for buildings and capital purchases.

"We need both, but we'll take what we can get," Columbia Public Schools' Superindendent Chris Belcher said.

"We're at the point now, where, any other reductions be make would be -- what I consider to be, on the much more radical side. We're down to where we would change the fabric of Columbia Public Schools," Belcher said.

If the district has no new money coming in, the board said it will need to begin defecit spending by the 2012-2013 school year.

"Its been a long road in the last four years because of decreases in state revenue, decreases in federal revenue, and a decrease in our assessed valuation, (which generates our local revenue), we have had to decrease our budget by 20 million dollars," Belcher said.

"The big issue is, I've got parents, who of course want smaller class sizes, they want more programs for their kids, and they're a consumer. I've got the business community, that pays a higher tax rate, that want a vibrant community where people will move in and want to grow so that they can continue their business. And then I've got the patrons who just enjoy quality of life. It's a really dicey issue and we've just gotta put forth a public discussion, and let democracy work."

The district must submit the tax increase proposal to the Boone County Clerk by January 24th in order to be on the April ballot.