St. Joseph School District Property Tax Levy In Peril

Jan 9, 2015

A new poll shows part of a property tax levy in the St. Joseph School District in trouble with patrons.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

Taxpayers in the St. Joseph, Mo., school district are opposed to renewing part of property tax levy that would cost the district $6.5 million.

St. Joseph public schools have been consumed by several controversies for almost a year. The FBI started interviewing district officials and local business owners last March. A grand jury sitting in Kansas City has issued three subpoenas for documents and the district is preparing to receive a scathing report from the Missouri State Auditor.

The district has also lost $2 million in state aid because of disallowed summer school classes.

It's against that troubling backdrop that the district must try to convince voters that it deserves the additional money.

The poll commissioned by the district shows 48 percent of so-called frequent voters oppose renewing a 63 cent levy that expires later this year. The poll also shows 39 percent would vote yes on renewal and 14 percent undecided.

The district also wanted to know if patrons would be open to learning more about the schools in some form of community engagement.

The results show taxpayers clearly don't want that sort of engagement; 72 percent said they have no interest in learning more about the district.

The last time the district went to voters it asked for a $42 million bond issue to build two new elementary schools.

That passed with 66 percent of the vote.

District officials released the results at a Board of Education meeting Friday afternoon.

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