Majority of Mehlville board ignores taxpayers’ wishes, reader writes

To the editor:

On Sept. 27, the Mehlville Board of Education had a public hearing regarding the issue of rolling up the property tax rate on Mehlville School District residents.

They called it a “hearing,” but the wishes of the taxpayers were ignored.

At this meeting, the school board was to vote on rolling up the tax rate on Mehlville residents in order to make up for lost revenue due to declining property values, subsequent to “hearing” taxpayer concerns.

This only needed approval of the board and not a vote of residents.

There were approximately 12 people who spoke against rolling up the tax rate with very well thought-out reasons. Just one person spoke out, not necessarily indicating for or against rolling up the tax rate.

Only two of the board members, Rich Franz and Mark Stoner, actually listened and heard the taxpayers concerns. They both spoke out to the other board members reflecting the concerns and issues of those taxpayers that spoke at the hearing and I commend them for their efforts.

Rich Franz reminded the other board members that the taxpayers are the ones the money comes from and they are really the “bosses” of the district and the school board should listen to them.

Elaine Powers did put forward a compromise. She suggested rolling the tax rate up half the amount instead of the full amount, to give some break to the taxpayers. The board immediately rejected the idea.

In the end, only three board members voted against rolling up the tax rate. They were Rich Franz, Mark Stoner and Elaine Powers. The other board members, who completely disregarded the wishes of the taxpayers and voted to roll the tax rate up to the maximum allowed, are Larry Felton, Tom Diehl, Venki Palamand and Ron Fedorchak.

I urge Mehlville residents to remember these names when the next school board election takes place. These four people rolled up your property tax rate.

In this economy most of us have had to cut back. Why can’t the Mehlville School District?

When the district closed the books on 2010-2011, their general and teachers fund balances were roughly $2.1 million more than projected. So what did they do? They gave $950 to those in 706 certified positions.

Why couldn’t they have saved the $2.1 million and carried it over to 2011-2012 instead of raising our property tax rate?

Last year an extra $236 was added to base salaries. These are dollars that will be carried through every year now that they’re in the salary schedules.

It’s your tax dollars. Which of those members on the Mehlville School District are being frugal? Who’s watching out for you?

You make the call when those board members are up for re-election.

John M. Fedchak

Oakville