Should Saint Louis Raise Property Taxes for Public Schools?
What do you call nearly $15,000 per pupil? If you’re the Saint Louis Public School System, you call it “not enough.” In April, the school district will ask voters to approve a 75-cent property tax increase. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the increase would generate an additional $27.8 million for the school district.
I wanted to take a moment to put this tax increase into perspective. According to data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the average tax rate ceiling for school districts in Missouri was $3.70 per $100 of assessed valuation in 2015. Regionally, however, property tax rates are considerably higher. The average tax rate for Saint Louis County school districts is $4.528. On top of that, county residents pay an additional $1.2609 per $100 of assessed valuation for the special school district. This brings the county average up to $5.788.
The table that follows shows how Saint Louis’ school property tax rate would stack up to Saint Louis County school districts. For county districts, I combine both district and special school district rates.
Property Tax Rate Ceiling
As has been written on this blog before, Saint Louis could do other proactive things to address the budget crisis, such as selling vacant school buildings. And as Joseph Miller has pointed out, the city could help the district out a little by ending its flagrant TIF and tax abatement policies. Nevertheless, it is certainly within the right of the school district to seek a property tax increase. If this one passes, Saint Louis will still have the lowest school taxes in the area.