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Webster Groves School District To Lose $300,000 Due To 1 Cent Rollback In 2016

Hearing on new tax rate set for Sept. 18, 6 p.m.

September 14, 2018
Because of some oddities in state law, a good deed done two years ago will cost the Webster Groves School District more than $300,000 in property tax revenue this year.

In 2016, the Webster Groves Board of Education voluntarily reduced its property tax rate by a penny per hundred dollars of assessed value to make up for the fact that the state was providing the money for free all-day kindergarten.

Because of this and the complicated rules for taxpayer appeals the school board this year will have to set its rates lower enough to lose more than $300,000 this year.

Chief Financial/Operating Officer Bruce Ellerman explained what happened in a report to the board at its Sept. 10 meeting.

By rolling back the tax rate, the district also lowered tax rate adjustments for individual properties that were the subject of appeals going back as far as 2011. In some cases for commercial properties, the penny rollback became 30 cents.

"Because of that one penny, that voluntary rollback that we did in 2016, it prevents us from going back and adjusting the tax rates that otherwise we'd be able to do for losses in assessed valuation on those prior years," Ellerman said. "And that lost opportunity amounts to about $300,000 a year."

In 2016, the Webster Groves School Board cut its tax bill by a penny per $100 assessed value because of a pledge made when it put a tax increase to a vote in 2005.

A penny of that 2005 tax increase was for scholarships for full-time kindergarten program. But those scholarships are no longer needed since the district this year started receiving state funding for full-time kindergarten for all students.

Had the board rolled the taxes back in 2017, it wouldn't have mattered, Ellerman said. Property is reassessed in odd-numbered years, and the problems that caused the district to lose the money in its rollback are corrected. The problems only happens in an even-numbered year.

Ellerman recommended that the board not make any more voluntary rate reductions in even numbered tax years. He also recommended that the board make adjustments in future years that would take into account the effects of the assessed valuation.

The board will hold a hearing on the new tax rate on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 6 p.m., in the Central Office Board Room, 400 E. Lockwood Ave. The board is set to vote on adoption at a meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in the same location.

Goals For Coming Year

The board approved lists of goals for this year for Superintendent John Simpson and the board for the coming year. Among other things, both emphasized strong opposition to bias and racism in the district, dealing with facility and space needs now and in the future, developing a district strategic plan to start in the 2019-2020 school year and challenging students.

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