Even with tax-rate hike, Lindbergh still a bargain, letter writer says

To the editor:

A recent letter to the editor by Mr. Randy Stroede stated that the Lindbergh Schools tax increase approved by voters in November was “excessive and unjustified.”

I completely disagree. As a district resident and parent of a current student, I know that Lindbergh is a terrific bargain — providing very high quality education at a relatively low tax rate. Lindbergh’s tax rate is a great value, and I offer a comparison of Lindbergh’s rate to other county school district rates.

Let’s start with the tax rates at which our 2010 residential taxes were calculated.

Figures found on Page 3 of the online St. Louis County Tax Rate —

— show that Lindbergh is one of 23 school districts in St. Louis County charging residential taxes.

Of those 23 districts, Ladue had the lowest residential tax rate at $3.10 and Lindbergh had the second lowest rate at $3.13 – meaning that the remaining 21 districts all had higher rates than Lindbergh. In other words, 91 percent of the school districts in St. Louis County had a higher tax rate than Lindbergh. Hmmmm …

Looking more closely at those 21 districts with rates higher than Lindbergh, six of them were greater than $5 — that represents a full 25 percent of the county school districts. Two of those top six were actually greater than $6. Hmmmm …

No, I haven’t forgotten that the Lindbergh rate shown on the county’s website is the “old” rate before the 65-cent increase that residents approved. Let’s deal with that — $3.13 old rate plus 65 cents equals $3.78.

Other school districts also passed tax increases last fall, but just to keep things really simple let’s ignore that and just compare Lindbergh’s new 2011 rate to everyone else’s old 2010 rate. Guess what? Ladue is still sitting at the bottom. Lindbergh passed up a grand total of five districts and there are still 16 districts with a tax rate greater than Lindbergh. So Lindbergh’s 2011 tax rate is still lower than 70 percent of the county school districts’ 2010 rates. Hmmmm….

My final comparison won’t quite be apples to apples, but it is as close as I can get. Mr. Stroede’s letter states that “the median home price is around $195,000” in Crestwood, according to 2009 statistics on

.

Excluding the Hancock Amendment and Consumer Price Index adjustments that apply to all school districts, thereby keeping us basically even, that resident with a house assessed at $195,000 will pay $1,400 in taxes to Lindbergh this year under the 2011 rate. If you picked up that house and dropped it into other county school districts, the following taxes would have been paid under the 2010 rates:

• $1,551 in Kirkwood.

• $1,584 in Rockwood.

• $1,863 in Affton.

• $2,066 in Webster Groves.

• $2,316 in Normandy.

Obviously, any of those five districts which passed tax increases last November — Kirkwood did — will have even higher figures than shown, making the gap even wider. Hmmmm …

Terri Karcher

Crestwood