Represent the Interests of Everyone
The Kirkwood School Board should represent the interests of the entire community. A tax increase of this magnitude fails to represent people who have children in private schools, retirees, people without children and people who simply cannot afford hundreds of dollars in tax increases. Taxpayers need to consider this issue when voting on Tuesday, November 3rd.
No Concrete Proposals of How the New Tax Revenues Will Be Spent
The district has yet to state specifically how the new revenue would be spent. The ballot proposal would raise revenue by $10.4 million annually. That would probably raise per-pupil spending by 10%.
The district has yet to disclose the enrollment study details to back up the claims of a strong growth trend in the next five years commensurate with the large increase request. This raises the question: Where will the growth come from? The district's geographical area -- only 15 square miles -- is not growing. New subdivisions are not sprouting up. And new home construction is almost exclusively limited to replacing an older home with a new one.
Uncertain Financial Future for Kirkwood's Middle Class and Retired Tax Payers
Decisions over such a large tax increase should not be made in a vacuum. The district leadership should recognize there are other financial strains on taxpayers, such as:
- Middle-class incomes are flat.
- Health-care costs are rising.
- Utility costs have increased for many residents.
- Social Security and Medicare programs are coming under increasing financial pressure. An obvious remedy is means-testing, which would punish Kirkwood's middle-class tax payers.
- Post-secondary educational costs and tuition debt are increasing.
High taxes; Deficit Spending
A decade ago, Kirkwood voters approved a 10% property tax hike. Shortly thereafter, property values shot up during the pre-recession housing bubble. The result: an unusual revenue windfall for the district, one that state officials finally ruled that the district was entitled to keep. From 2004-05 to 2007-08, district revenue shot up $15.8 million. That was a 46 percent increase in four years.
Our analysis shows that the district's revenue is annually $7.5 million above what would be expected had revenue been limited to the rise in the Consumer Price Index. Nevertheless, the board will dip into reserves for $3.6 million or more.
And now the board wants an additional $10.4 million a year?
Voters Said 'No' on Stadium Project; Board Did It Anyway
Taxpayers voted in November 2010 to reject athletic facility expenditures, yet the board spent money on those projects anyway. That 2010 proposition needed a 56% approval; it failed, receiving only 47%. This bears repeating. Despite the explicit rejection by the plurality of more than 10,000 voters, the board went ahead and spent taxpayer money anyway.
That arrogance moved St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial writer Deborah Peterson to write: “The key question certainly isn’t whether voters think improving the stadium is a good idea. They don’t. They said so in 2010. And the question isn’t whether Lyons Stadium is falling apart. It’s not.” Here is the full editorial from Aug. 21, 2013: Foul: Kirkwood schools officials won't take no on stadium.