(The Center Square) – Campaign consultants frequently recommend putting tax increases on the ballot in August.
Traditionally low voter turnouts in August provide opportunities for highly organized campaigns to get supporters to the polls to vote for and pass tax measures.
There are several tax increases on ballots throughout Missouri on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The largest initiative is for the St. Louis Community College (STLCC) system. Proposition R would increase property taxes in St. Louis city and county and parts of Franklin and Jefferson County. If passed by a simple majority, property taxes will increase from approximately 20 to 28 cents per $100 of assessed value. The STLCC campaign stated a person owning a $150,000 house would pay approximately $23 in additional taxes per year.
The campaign estimates the tax increase would add $24 million to SLCC’s annual budget of $160 million. STLCC will receive almost 10% of the state’s $32.2 million for higher education. STLCC will receive $3 million of the $10 million appropriated for the state’s 12 community college systems. STLCC’s amount is higher than the amount of eight of the state’s 10 four-year institutions – Missouri State University ($3.5 million) and the University of Missouri ($5.4 million) being the exceptions.
Earlier this year, STLCC announced it had raised $18.5 million of a $20 million capital campaign goal. The STLCC website says the tax increase will be the first in nearly 40 years. The website also says the increase “would also help the region rebuild the local economy following the COVID-19 pandemic by updating career training programs and facilities to support local job growth in critical industries including health care, information technology, financial services, biotechnology, and manufacturing.” The campaign states funding will be spent on infrastructure, construction, renovation, equipping and furnishing new and existing facilities and razing existing buildings.
STLCC’s total enrollment decreased 37% during the last seven years to 15,206 total students in 2020. Full-time student enrollment decreased 46% to 5,411 during the same period on the system’s four campuses and two education centers. Research by the Institute of Education Sciences shows STLCC’s student retention rates exceed comparative groups, but graduation and transfer-out rates are below peer groups.
Campaign committee disclosure reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission show the “Invest in St. Louis Community College” increased its contributions from one for $1,000 – made by Craig Larson, a member of the STLCC Board of Trustees – to a total of $197,827 during the last three months. Other large donations reported were from:
- Mark Wrighton, campaign chairman and chancellor emeritus of Washington University, $7,500;
- Laborers International Union of North America, $10,000;
- Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, $10,000;
- Carpenter’s Union CHIPP Political Account, $30,000;
- Missouri Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, $15,000;
- John McDonnell, former chairman of the McDonnell Douglas Corp., before merging with Boeing, $20,000;
- Andrew Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings, $100,000.
Two other municipalities in the St. Louis region have proposed property tax increases on the August ballot. Frontenac, a city of 2.9 square miles and a median household income of $217,768, is asking for $1 per $100 assessed valuation for police, fire and public works expenses. Clayton, a city of 16,000 people with a median household income of $97,145 on the western edge of the city of St. Louis, is asking for $2.1 million for public safety, parks and recreation and public works with an 18-cent increase per $100 assessed valuation.
Other tax increases on the ballot around Missouri include:
Blue Springs School District (Jackson County): A property tax increase of 6.5 cents to $4.9228 per $100 assessed valuation. If passed, it will make a corresponding reduction of its debt service property tax levy of 6.5 cents.
Buchanan County: Increase the law enforcement sales tax an additional 1/4% to hire additional criminal/drug investigators, additional patrol deputies, provide more competitive salary packages and other crime related expenditures.
Camden County: A sales tax of one-quarter of 1% for law enforcement, including funds for the sheriff’s department operating expenses, capital improvement projects, equipment and additional personnel.
City of Harrisonville (Cass County): A sales tax of one-half of 1% for operation of emergency services.
City of Merriam Woods (Taney County): An additional property tax of 50 cents per $100 assessed valuation for road repair and maintenance and expiring in four years.
City of Peculiar (Cass County): A 20-cent tax per $100 assessed valuation for public parks.
City of Republic (Greene County): Sales tax of three-fourths of 1% to fund public safety and end automatically after 25 years.
City of St. Joseph: Sales tax of one-half of 1% for funding for local parks projects and ending after 10 years.
Jasper County: Increases sales tax rate of one-tenth of 1%, and not to exceed one-quarter of 1%, for emergency services infrastructure and a public safety radio system to ensure rapid dispatching of 9-1-1 calls.
Jefferson City: Continue the current sales tax of one-half of 1% for the purpose of funding capital improvements from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2027.
Strain-Japan School District (Franklin County): Maintain the current operating tax levy of $3.7451 per $100 of assessed valuation.
Walnut Grove School District (Greene County): Proposition W.G. increases property tax by 79 cents to $4.843 per $100 dollars assessed valuation through 2040 to pay for building renovation and maintenance.
Taney County: Sales tax of one-half of 1% for sewers for an additional 25 years.