Jefferson City schools plan tax levy to address debt

Jun 20, 2013

Credit Jefferson City High School

The Jefferson City School Board is planning to increase the school tax levy for the first time in four years. According to the board’s preliminary budget, the current tax levy will increase by a little more than a cent – or about $5 per year, per home valued at $150,000. About the average value in Jefferson City.

The board’s Chief Financial Officer Jason Hoffman says the district scaled back the levy in recent years to save taxpayers a total of $2.2 million, but that they have to put money down this year towards the debt. “Bond owners, the people that own that debt, are going to continue to want to be paid the interest that we owe them and pay off the principal that we owe,” he said. “If we don’t put sufficient money into the debt service fund… then we’re not going to have enough money at some point to make those obligations that we’ve made.”

Assistant to the Superintendent David Luther says it’s time for the district to pay down its debt, and a levy increase is a responsible way to do that.  “We want to make sure we can do that without interfering with transportation, food services, and so forth,” he said. “So if you look at it in certain ways it actually a direct benefit to the students, too.”

The bond issue installing the levy originally passed in 2007 with an overwhelming 80 percent citizen approval. It provided the funding for full-day kindergarten and other various other school programs. The district hasn’t collected on the levy from taxpayers since 2008. Hoffman says the board could still make changes to the preliminary 2013 budget because they don’t yet have all the information they need from the county. Once the county releases that information in July, Hoffman says the school board will set the tax levy rate officially sometime in August.