On April 5th, 2016, St. Louis citizens will have the chance to vote on a property tax increase. The tax increase was proposed by the St. Louis Public School District’s Special Administrative Board, and filed with the Board of Election Commissioners—without consulting the Elected School Board members. As of today, the full ballot language was still unavailable from the Board of Elections website, and a phone call confirmed that the election was “too far away” for any further information to be made public. (UPDATE: Full ballot language is still not published on the Board of Elections website, but IT CAN BE READ HERE. It will be called “Proposition 1” and is going to ballot as-is, with NO clause to account for low income homeowners or low-value properties.)
As an across-the-board property tax increase, this will backfire. It will only serve to push low income homeowners into the danger zone of tax auction forfeiture, and further devour our already-dwindling population. The Post-Dispatch article states, “the 75-cent tax increase would raise property taxes an additional $142.50 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home”. While $142 may be a mere inconvenience to St. Louis’s more affluent homeowners, amounts as small as $25 are already dire straits for the poor. Current property tax rates are already forcing homeowners in our poorest neighborhoods—those who rely most on our public schools—into delinquency, and they face the very real risk of losing their homes. Low income families (or houses appraised at under $35,000) should be exempt from this real estate tax increase. Otherwise, what seems like a reasonable goal will be fraught with unintended consequences.
Numerous studies have shown that kids with stable home environments—those who don’t move around from house to house or school to school—perform higher not just on standardized tests, but are overall better learners in class. Education is important, but not when comes at the cost of a family losing their fully-paid-off home and becoming perpetually transient.
The SAB is out of control and out of touch. Please join me in asking the Special Administrative Board to reconsider this by calling them 314-345-2230. If they don’t listen, please vote NO on Proposition 1 when you cast your ballot on April 5th. Voting NO does not mean you don’t support education. Voting NO means you oppose perpetuating cyclical poverty in St. Louis.
Read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article here: