Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PUBLIC RECORDS SAY: No school tax hikes in 2010-11

COLUMBIA, 8/30/10  (Beat Byte) --  A November 2009 Columbia Tribune story about future CPS tax hikes shows why last week's news of a levy hike was a surprise.   Board member Tom Rose waved off even suggestions of a rate increase. 

"The district’s levy is $4.7717 per $100 of assessed valuation.  Tom Rose, Columbia Board of Education member and chairman of the board’s finance committee, said a levy increase might be a consideration in the future.  'We’d be needing to look in 2012 or 2013,' Rose said.  'We wouldn’t be looking before then, I wouldn’t think.'" 

But look before then -- and raise substantially -- they did. 

Even the 2010-11 CPS Budget says no tax hike.  On pg. 128 (PDF pg. 149), 2010 and 2011 tax rates are the same:  $4.7717

Board Members last week approved a $4.9192 rate, a surprise to the budget itself!    
From news reports to meeting minutes, school-related tax hikes are never mentioned.  
This May 2010 Trib story even discusses assessed valuation, with no mention of a levy hike:

"Other funding sources will affect the district’s final budget product, such as local property tax revenue. The district expects a zero percent increase in the assessed valuation of property for next year’s budget, which is better than many districts projecting less money from local assessed valuation."

The archive of CPS press releases mentions the levy increase once:  Last Wednesday.   

Even the News You Can Use announcement President Jan Mees cites says nothing about raising the levy, nor the dual recommendations to do so -- from Supt. Belcher and Finance Director Quinley --- cited in the District's last minute press release. 
Tax levy informational meeting
"Columbia Public Schools invites the community to attend an informational session on the tax levy on Monday, August 23, at 5:00 p.m. at the district's administration building, 1818 West Worley Street. Community members will have an opportunity to learn about the components of the tax levy as well as ask questions.  Additionally, the Board of Education will hold a public hearing will be held on Aug. 26 at 7:30 a.m. at the district's administration building to consider the tax rate for 2010." 
UP/DOWN FILMFEST:  School board meets to raise, then lower taxes
COLUMBIA, 8/30/10  (Beat Byte) --  A patented bicycle specially designed for back-pedaling was seen leaving Columbia Public Schools headquarters Friday afternoon
At the Boone County Government building, a messenger wearing a "Tendep" company t-shirt got off the bike and delivered papers marked "erroneous tax levy data."  She picked up a folder marked "corrected tax levy data" and pedaled back to CPS. 
Boone County assessor Tom Schauwecker met the peddling messenger at the door, smiling to cameras as he handed over the correct information. 
In the papers, a problem Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren described as "complicated" prompted the Columbia School Board to pedal back its Thursday tax increase on Friday, cutting it almost in half. 
Instead, Assessor Schauwecker -- who noticed the complications, contradictions, and contra-indications -- said he was raising assessed valuations on average folks but leaving them untouched -- perhaps even lowering them -- for big developers. 
"Lots of developers are hurting," the assessor assessed.  "We have to keep their assessed valuations down so they can struggle through and help bring back the economy.  We need to step up.  They need our help.  So do our schools.  I see it as a win-win." 
Giving the public a welcome 4 days notice to attend a special session on the tax rate decrease, the Board will meet at 7:30 am Tuesday (tomorrow, August 31) to consider the (surprise!) reduction. 
Though loud laughter was heard coming from a corner office at the County building as the messenger pedaled away, the entire episode was a remarkable example of inter-agency recuper -- er, cooperation.

Warning:  The article above contains some parody -- or at least, we hope it's parody. 

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