Mehlville not only needs additional revenue, but ‘the need is severe’

To the editor:

A letter writer

said he did not think our school district needed additional revenue.

I would like to make it clear that not only do we need additional revenue, but that our need is severe. Despite our school district doing a commendable job of holding down expenses, we do not have enough money to pay our bills and the reason we don’t is primarily a result of decreased property values. Forecasts for deficits are $5 million for the current school year and $8 million for the 2015-2016 school year.

According to data in the school district’s Strategic Financial Plan, property values have decreased 0.14 percent each year over the last six years. Over that period the average annual growth rate of money collected from our tax levy was 0.1 percent. Total district revenue has increased a total of only 1.7 percent over the six years. As a comparison, during this same time period the cumulative growth in Social Security cost-of-living adjustments was 13 percent.

If district revenue had increased each year at the same rate of Social Security benefits, Mehlville would have collected an additional $51 million during this period.

The state is our second biggest source of revenue and by neglecting its obligation to fully fund education, the state has cost Mehlville millions of dollars over the last six years.

We must either reduce expenses, raise revenue or a combination of both. Raising revenue is not a short-term option, so cuts will be made to cover the deficit. The cuts will be a bitter pill to swallow, but every attempt will be made to not harm the education of children. Our problem cannot be solved by reducing expenses alone. The school district says a tax increase of 51 cents per $100 is needed to balance the $8 million deficit for the next school year.

That amount is necessary for the proper education of our community’s children and for the welfare of the community itself and must be on the November ballot. Then let’s do the right thing; approve it and get the focus back on making the quality of our children’s education even better.