Parkway approves tax increase
On Sept. 19, the Parkway Board of Education approved by a vote of 6-0 a residential property tax rate of $3.60, which is a 26-cent increase over last year’s rate of $3.34. Despite the increase, Parkway’s tax rate remains the fourth lowest out of the 22 St. Louis County school districts, which had a 2011 average residential property tax rate of $4.70.
The 2012 tax rate is still about 25 cents below the residential property tax rate ceiling of $3.85 that Parkway voters approved with the passage of Proposition R in 2006. The new tax rate does not include the 34-cent debt service levy that taxpayers incur.
Prior to the vote, Mark Stockwell, Parkway’s chief financial officer, presented the proposed tax increase to the Board. He estimated that a Parkway homeowner with a home valued at $250,000 and cars valued at about $15,000 would see a $129 increase on their tax bill in 2012 due to the rate hike. The tax increase will result in the district collecting about $8.5 million more in property taxes than it collected in 2011-2012.
Stockwell said that Parkway has seen its assessed valuation of personal property decrease from over $600 million a few years ago to $531 million in 2012. He said raising the rate was part of a two-pronged effort to fill the district’s budget shortfall.
“Essentially, it’s part of the bigger picture,” Stockwell said. “Our operating revenues this past year were actually lower than they were five years ago. We knew we were going to have a big hole to fill.
“We spent a great deal of time last year going through a major budget-cutting process. We cut 172 positions, people’s jobs. We eliminated about $8 million in expenses and, unfortunately, we needed to make some adjustments in this voluntary rollback.
“We’ve been levying a rate that was significantly below what the Board of Education could have levied for the past five years. So we felt like it was a reasonable mix to cut half of the hole with expense cuts and then add some additional revenues by adjusting that voluntary rollback.”
Even with the tax increase, district officials said they anticipate the need for more cost cutting in the coming year.