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Board talks bond issue, tax rate

The Farmington School Board held a work session Aug. 18 to discuss the tax levy and the possibility of increasing the tax rate and a bond issue in 2012. Then the board met Wednesday evening for a public hearing and to vote on the tax rate.

During the public hearing the board was going to look at the assessed valuation from St. Francois County, Ste. Genevieve County and a district total. Members were going to look at state reassessment forms, Proposition C rollback forms, local tax budget worksheets and the tax rate for 2011-12 school year.

During their meeting they also planned to hold discussion about the tax rate for 2011-12 school year and then vote to set the levy.

During the earlier work session Larry Hart and Christine Perkins, analyst from the firm L. J. Hart & Company, presented the members with information and a schedule summary of finance options for a tax levy and bond issue.

“Workshops are excellent for long range planning,” said Hart.

The Farmington School District has completed more than $75 million in total financing with L. J. Hart and Company. The district has worked with the company since 1994, which has saved the district more than $5 million in future interest expense.

Hart said one of the missions during the meeting was to work on the debt service fund balances to even them out before the 2015-16 and 2016-17 years. If the board does not come up with a solution the district will not have enough money to pay the bills at that time, he forecasted.

Farmington R-7 could have a maximum tax levy of 92 cents. The current levy is 62 cents.

“If you are going to make an adjustment make it adequate for what you need to do,” said Hart.

The district has been able to hold the levy at 62 cents, but now the district isn’t growing as much and the economy took a downturn so adjustments need to be made, it was said.

“The first step would be paying off the current debt the district has, and the second step would be to complete some other projects,” said Don Eaton, director of business services.

Board President David Buerck asked if there was a reason past district officials didn’t see the need to increase the levy.

“A lot of times there is a reluctance to increase the levy. But you can’t afford to prolong the levy in the debt service. You’re to the point where you need a significant jump and that brings in the potential to complete some new projects now,” said Hart.

Board member Howard Hoehn said he wanted to remind people the district has kept the tax levy at 62 cents since 2000 but now it’s time to make a change.

Eaton said the main message at Thursday’s work session was pointed out by Hoehn. The district hasn’t had a raise in the tax levy for 10 years — since the 2000-01 school year. It was kept low because the district and community were growing and it was enough to make payments. Now the growth has flattened out and the economy went south.

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