Call the Tune: Chellis’ Prop P questions really right on the money

Mike Anthony

It’s certainly no secret that we haven’t always agreed with Mehlville Board of Education member Matthew Chellis.

Frankly, we’ll never be able to understand or agree with Mr. Chellis on some issues. But on financial matters, he has demonstrated an uncanny ability to ask questions that are right on the money, so to speak.

Mehlville residents certainly will remember that Mr. Chellis was the only board member to vote against placing Proposition P on the November 2000 ballot.

In fact, Mr. Chellis even formulated a counter proposal to what the district’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Facilities had recommended to the board. Though we didn’t agree with his proposal, he should be commended for bringing it forth.

Mr. Chellis also should be commended for the questions he asked since voters approved Proposition P, a nearly $68.4 million building improvement program funded by a 49-cent tax rate increase. When the board voted 6-1 in October 2001 to approve a $72.4 million budget for Proposition P, Mr. Chellis cast the dissenting vote.

Interest on the bond-like certificates of participation issued to fund Prop P allowed the construction budget to increase to $72.4 million.

Mr. Chellis said he voted against the budget because the 49-cent tax-rate increase was designed to fund projects totaling $68.4 million.

“I think the tax rate should be rolled back at an earlier date than it otherwise would be to return our windfall — the $4 million — to the taxpayers who provided the funds in the first place,” he said then.

The district now estimates the 49 cents will generate nearly $26 million more through 2020 than is required to retire the bond-like certificates.

Mr. Chellis also asked what other estimated expenditures were not included in the $72.4 million budget.

“At this point, some general conditions, but that could be paid for in contingency if in fact we have some contingency left; furniture, depending on what we decide to do with furniture — that’s kind of an unknown situation,” then-Superintendent John Cary replied at the October 2001 meeting.

We learned last week — almost two years later — those “general conditions” are projected to cost $3,321,212 and furniture, fixtures and equipment are projected to cost $2,154,704.

Good questions, Mr. Chellis. We urge you to keep asking them.