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Friday, October 15, 2010

Another Prop C – Only This Time, It Should Be NO!

Imagine your response to this scenario.  An elected school board member is asked about an action he and his fellow board members took. He responded:  ”"My decision and the decision of the board is not based on how the taxpayers feel.

Unfortunately, this is not a “what if” scenario.  This is the actual response from the Mehlville Public School District School Board President Tom Diehl.

Now let’s be clear.  School Board members serve at no pay.  They are elected volunteers who are supposed to serve the patrons of the district in providing the best education possible.  Most do the best job they can.  Unfortunately, some forget who they actually serve and either believe that they work for the administration or, worse yet, that they are above questioning by those who put them in place.

Mr. Diehl and others on the Mehlville School Board appear to have reached the latter point of view.

Take, for example, the recent vote to place a 25% tax levy increase on the November ballot.  I’m not sure, but perhaps they have missed the fact that the country is in an economic recession. But like most school districts and boards, they use the tired and worn refrain “it’s for the children” to justify their actions.  It has been my experience that as soon as that phrase is deployed, it is usually the last resort for those lacking a winning argument for what they want to do.

The Mehlville School Board doesn’t have a stellar track record in making good decisions.  One doesn’t have to look far to see this fact demonstrated.

Take the salary offer they made to their superintendent this year.  They offered him a whopping $44,088 increase (roughly 24%) plus a $25,000 bonus to stay on as superintendent, according to the Post-Dispatch. Teachers were being given approximately a 3% increase.

A little problem developed.  The district wanted to put a tax increase on the ballot to raise approximately $106 million.  It seems that when focus groups were asked about the superintendent salary increase, they were very much inclined NOT to vote for the tax levy.

As a result, the superintendent decided he really didn’t need all that money and settled for a measly 6% increase in salary.  After all, the other 18% that he would have received “was for the children.”

Apparently the superintendent and the board, which rescinded the offer after the superintendent decided he didn’t need it after all, think that by declining and rescinding the outrageous salary increase that all is forgiven.  District residents should remember that the offer was made, it was considered and that only after the focus groups indicated that the salary increase could cause problems for the tax levy increase was it “declined” and “rescinded”.

Fortunately, a grass roots group has sprung up to fight this ill-timed and ill-considered tax levy increase.  According to the Call and its website, the Mehlville Community  Taxpayers Association (MCTA) was formed to

oppose the Mehlville School District’s Proposition C, citing what it contends is the Board of Education’s lack of credibility and the community’s inability to afford the proposed 88-cent tax-rate increase.
Now, it’s not uncommon for there to be opposition to tax levy increases.  Groups often spring up in opposition to such proposals.  But in this case and under these economic conditions, a 25% tax levy increase is rather outrageous.  I guess that’s why the Call reports that the opposition includes,

“four former Mehlville Board of Education members — Kurt Witzel, Dick Roehl, Matt Chellis and state Rep. Walt Bivins — have voiced their opposition to Prop C. Also opposed is Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer, who helped lead an effort to defeat the school district’s Proposition A — a 97-cent tax-rate increase — in February 2006.”

(You can hear Aaron Hilmer’s discussion with a supporter of the tax levy on the Mark Reardon show on KMOX here.)
It’s apparent that the opposition is more than just a few people who are against yet another tax increase.  It’s opposed by some very knowledgeable people who make some very good points about why now is not the time for a 25% increase in the tax levy during these economic times. -Carl Bearden


  1. Outraged in OakvilleOctober 17, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    Carl Bearden opposes every tax increase. He's using misinformation to form his opinion. This isn't a 25% tax increase across the board. It's an .88 tax increase. Common sense will tell you that it's not 25%. If this passes, my taxes will go up 18% in December of 2011. Of course, my mortgage company won't assess the change until they do my escrow analysis in June of 2012... No one is going to be standing at your door in Mid November 2010 with a bill for you to pay. Seems like a lot of people are acting like that's the case.

    You don't want to pay more taxes? Move out of the school district...find someplace else in St. Louis with lower taxes. How about Affton, Bayless, Clayton, Rockwood, Ferg/Flor, Hancock, Kirkwood, Webster, Hazelwood??...oops nope- all their residential tax rates are higher ...not just talking schools but total prop tax rate. Mehlville's tax rate- if you have Mehlville fire protection too- is 6.1855. The school district share is just a little more than half of the property tax. Go find a house in Lindbergh or Parkway that's equivalent to the one you are in here in the Mehlville School District and pay a lower tax rate on a house that is assessed at significantly more.

  2. Outraged: I will stay in the Mehlville School District and stand firm against your grab for big raises for the employees that are unlimited in the future.
    How dare you to tell us to move anywhere! I have a better idea, why don't you move if you don't like living in the most anti-tax area in the state!

    Prop C is doomed!

  3. It's time to stand up to those school board thugs! They're going from school to school strong-arming affiliated groups into making a "donation" in support of prop C. I heard that a "guest speaker" came in to address one of the school organizations, and was begging for money from the group to fund prop C so they could build performance art buildings. The request failed when forced to a vote, so the "guest speaker" some-how threatened the group, When they voted a second time, it passed. So if you donated to that school, by paying to attend one of its events, And you do not support prop C, YOUR money went in support of it anyway! I was told that amazingly, NONE of the officers voted to spend the money in the first vote, but that didn't stop it from passing! Careful where you spend your money.

  4. I know! I heard that Larry, told Sally, told Sue at Point that Tim and Dave were in-cahoots, on Proposition C and that Dave M. told Mary that if Mary didn't change her vote that he was going to revoke her access to the library after-hours. These public school people are vicious! If this thing passes, (and it won't) we should double-check things like their so-called full video security installations and early childhood education expansion. What a bunch of bunk. What in the world is early childhood education anyway? What ever happened to parents educating their kids? I wonder what was said in the second vote? Larry wouldn't tell me. Nancy and Leeza just kept giggling.

  5. The MCTA will be doing a post-election investigation of the abuse perpetrated by the employees during work hours of using district resources for political purposes. The Mehlville School District employees think they they can do anything they want. We will see.

  6. Outraged: Yes it is a 25% tax increase on the tax rate and yes it is across the board, Residence, agriculture, commercial and personal property all get the whammy! Not to mention the roll up tax of 13.7 cents the board approved. So .88 will turn into 1.01 tax rate hike.
    What is your point of 2012. A tax increase is a tax increase. By 2012 you might be paying $4.00 a gal for gasoline. Probably another 15% for food, utilties and it goes on and on.
    Why do you compare apples and oranges on other district total residential tax. they include other service items provided by that community that the county does not.
    One more thing, have you had a 18% raise lately?


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