Oakville Republicans will not endorse Mehlville’s 97-cent tax-rate increase

The Oakville Township Republican Club will not endorse a 97-cent tax-rate increase placed on the Tuesday, Feb. 7, ballot by the Mehlville Board of Education, citing “questionable financial decisions” made by the board regarding the Proposition P district-wide building improvement program.

Oakville Township Republican Club members voted “overwhelmingly” last week to approve a motion stating the organization will not endorse the 97-cent tax-rate increase, called Proposition A for academics, according to a news release issued by the club.

The organization’s Jan. 5 vote was taken after presentations were made on both sides of the issue, the release stated.

Andrea Keller, co-chair of Citizens Protecting Our Investments, and Board of Education President Rita Diekemper gave a 35-minute presentation and took 20 minutes of questions from the overflow crowd at the meeting.

Much of the discussion involved questions regarding the overspending of more than $20.7 million by the school district for the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program, according to the release.

Voters in November 2000 approved Proposition P, a nearly $68.4 million bond issue funded by a 49-cent tax-rate increase. However, a final budget revision approved last month by the school board raises the Proposition P budget to $89,137,440 — a roughly 30.3 percent increase — more than $20.7 million over the nearly $68.4 million building improvement program envisioned in 2000.

Later in the meeting, Jim Stonebraker of the No Accountability, No on A committee spoke in opposition to the proposed tax-rate increase, asserting that the Mehlville School District does have sufficient tax dollars to properly educate students, but the funds were being spent unwisely, the release stated.

After both presentations, club members “overwhelmingly” passed the following motion as the organization’s position on the upcoming 97-cent tax-rate increase:

“The Oakville Township Republican Club and our members fully support the ideals of public education and the efficient expenditures of tax dollars to properly educate our community’s children. We generally represent a conservative fiscal approach to local governmental taxing institutions, and we have serious reservations about the recent financial decisions regarding the spending of taxpayer dollars generated by the passage of the Mehlville School District’s Proposition P.

“These reservations specifically concern the initial proposal by the district Board of Education members and administrative personnel to expend $68.4 million on district buildings, and then their subsequent decision, after voters’ passage of Prop. P, to increase these expenditures to over $89.1 million. This is an increase in expenditures of 30.2 percent over the initial proposal, and an increase of $20 million in expenditures of taxpayer dollars, all spent without requesting input from the general public regarding this overage from the initial proposition approved by voters.

“As a result of questionable financial decisions made by the Mehlville Board of Education on overspending on the Prop P proposal, our club will not encourage club members, nor voters in general, to support the upcoming $14 million Proposition A tax increase proposal on the ballot in February of 2006; and will not, as (an) organization, endorse Proposition A in the February election,” the motion concluded.

If Proposition A is approved by voters, the district’s operational tax rate would increase to a “blended” rate of $4.27 per $100 of assessed valuation — roughly a 29.4 percent increase over the current blended rate.