Fowler won’t be part of any tax-hike effort

Staff report

A co-chair of the Facilitating Team for the Mehlville School District’s community engagement effort says he will not be an “active participant” in the campaign for a possible tax-rate increase this November.

Insurance agent Dan Fowler, co-chair of the Facilitating Team for COMPASS II — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools — announced last week his decision not to campaign for a possible 94-cent tax-rate increase that is needed to fund $107 million in recommendations to make Mehlville a high-performing school district.

While the Board of Education has not yet decided how much of a tax-rate increase, if any, to place on the Nov. 2 ballot, Fowler — himself a former school board member — said he has decided to return to private life after consulting with his family, friends and employer.

Fowler was appointed in January 2007 along with former Beasley Elementary School Principal Jim Schibig to co-chair COMPASS. Recommendations gathered at numerous COMPASS sessions in 2007 and 2008 resulted in the school board’s placement of Proposition T — a successful proposal to transfer of roughly 31 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from the district’s debt-service fund to the operating fund — on the November 2008 ballot.

Fowler resigned as COMPASS co-chair on Jan. 1, 2009, but returned to the position earlier this year after his successor, former school board member Candy Green, be-came ill.

Fowler told the Call his decision last week was not influenced by the results of a recent community survey designed to gauge district residents’ support of the possible 94-cent tax-rate increase.

The survey, which was conducted last month through 501 telephone interviews, initially found that only 45.8 percent of respondents would favor the possible 94-cent tax-rate increase. But when asked later in the survey about the proposed 94-cent tax-rate increase after answering several other questions regarding that increase, 51.3 percent were in favor and 44.8 percent were opposed.

However, Fowler said he did have a “serious concern” about the board seeking the entire 94-cent tax-rate increase this fall.

“I do think that as much as the needs of the district are there and that 94 cents is warranted … to me the survey clearly shows that a 94-cent tax levy at this time would be nearly impossible to achieve,” he said, citing a rough economic climate. “And so I would highly recommend that the board look at a greatly reduced amount and do it piecemeal to be successful.”

Board of Education President Tom Diehl declined to comment on Fowler’s decision until he could speak with him about it further.

Superintendent Terry Noble told the Call, “I just want to offer my appreciation to Dan for what he’s done already … He’s a very busy person in his own private life and in his personal business. I’m amazed he’s been able to put in as much time as he has. We’re glad that we’ve had him for the time we’ve had him to help us.

“I’d say that about any of our volunteers … He graciously offered to help us, and he’s done just that.”