Lindbergh school board sets 2016 tax rate

Karen Schuster

Karen Schuster

By Mike Anthony

A 2016 blended operating tax rate of $3.6731 per $100 of assessed valuation recently was approved by the Lindbergh Board of Education.

The board voted 6-0 to establish the 2016 blended operating tax rate, a slight decrease from last year. The blended rate is not levied, but used for state calculations.

Board President Kathy Kienstra was absent from the Sept. 27 meeting, in which Secretary Karen Schuster participated by telephone.

No one spoke on the proposed tax rates during a public hearing. The approved tax rates are:

• Residential — $3.4921 per $100, a decrease of 1.95 cents from last year.

• Commercial — $3.9766 per $100, an increase of 4.4 cents from last year.

• Agricultural — $2.9883 per $100, an increase of less than 1 cent.

• Personal property — $3.9096 per $100, unchanged for the past five years.

Board members also approved the 2016 debt-service tax rate of 77.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, an increase of 2 cents from last year.

The debt-service fund is used exclusively for the retirement of long-term debt and voter-approved bonds. The rate is established based on the cost for next year’s principal and interest payments, along with a reasonable reserve.

“2016 is not a property reassessment year, so our assessed valuation changed very little. Accordingly, our tax rates for each property class are staying about the same as last year … Our total assessed valuation did increase this year by about $14.1 million. That’s about a $1.1 million increase,” Chief Financial Officer Charles Triplett told the board, noting the district’s total assessed valuation is $1,267,197,550, compared to $1,253,052,510 last year.

Of the district’s total assessed valuation, he said, “… That’s still about $120 million below where we were in 2007. So we’re still playing catchup from almost a decade ago in our assessed values. The bulk of that increase comes from new construction and personal property. We had almost $13 million of new residential property in the district this year, and we also had over $3 million of new personal property — cars, motorcycles, boats, that kind of property.”

Because of the Hancock Amendment, however, the district is limited to collecting “the lesser of either growth in assessed valuation or the CPI, the consumer price index inflation rate, and last year that was 0.7 percent. So we have to stop collecting any new revenue at that 0.7-percent level.”

Furthermore, the CFO noted, “It’s the fourth straight year of declining CPI. Five years ago, we had a 3-percent inflation rate. Then it went to 1.7 (percent), 1.5 (percent). Last year, it was 0.8 (percent) and this year, 0.7 (percent). While that’s good for consumers, it’s not good for public entities in the state of Missouri.”

In a separate matter, board members voted 6-0 to award a roughly $6.5 million contract for the construction of a new Central Office building to Wachter Inc.

The company’s bid of $6,561,000 for the two-story, 24,000-square-foot building was the lowest of six submitted for the construction of the new Central Office building on the 2.2-acre former Johnny’s Market site at 11555 Gravois Road.

Lindbergh’s Central Office currently is housed at Lindbergh High School, and occupies roughly 20,000 square feet there.

Central Office has 12 departments and about 50 employees overseeing such district-level programs as technology, facilities, curriculum, finance and human resources.

Construction of the new Central Office building is scheduled to be completed by October 2017, restoring eight to 10 classrooms at the high school to address the surging enrollment the district is facing.

The school district purchased the former Johnny’s Market site in January at a cost of $1,663,603.