September 24 Tax Levy Vote – Motion to set a total tax rate of $4.9949
Each year in September, the Board of Education must approve the tax levy to submit to the City of St. Louis.
I will not be complicit in the perpetuation of an inequitable taxation rate which results in a heavier relative burden placed on northside/low income families. The average percentage of a school board’s budget derived from local effort (property taxes) for most districts in Missouri is ~50%. In St. Louis City—a high poverty district with over 80% of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch—over 70% of the SLPS budget comes from local effort.
With home ownership an ever receding possibility for many African-American and low-income families, inequitable real estate taxes contribute heavily to this barrier. When a family in St. Louis City (or Kansas City) is unable to afford their property taxes for three years, their home is auctioned off by the Sheriff to the highest bidder. If there are no bids, the home is seized by the Land Reutilization Authority, its occupants are evicted, and it is boarded up and removed from the tax rolls unless the LRA decides to sell it to another willing buyer. The LRA has accumulated over 12,000 properties via this system, the bulk of which have sat in idle disrepair for decades.
This high stakes state-legislated enforcement system applies specifically to St. Louis and Kansas City only and places more urban families at risk of losing their homes. Meanwhile, wealthier municipalities are left to self govern and determine their own timelines and penalties for delinquent taxes. As St. Louis City history has demonstrated time and again: empty neighborhoods mean empty neighborhood schools.
Until the State of Missouri gives SLPS the support we need, or until we as a district make measurable strides toward demanding this of our legislators and other City officials, I will not participate in this annual vote to perpetuate economic inequity.
Link to 09/24/19 meeting minutes: https://www.slps.org/cms/lib/MO01001157/Centricity/Domain/8808/9-24-19%20TaxRate%20and%20General%20Business%20Meeting%20Minutes.pdf