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Monday, March 1, 2010

$40 Million School Bond Issue--2010

Central High Forum Report

March 26, 2010
I asked four questions this evening at the public forum at Central high school. They were difficult questions to answer and Dr. Jim Welker was honorable in his responses. The crowd seemed to be uniformly in favor of the bond issue.

The Bond Issue Increases Taxes

Dr. Welker admitted that if the bond issue passes, it'll increase taxes.

The Bond Issue Increases the Tax Rate

He also admitted that, the way I explained it, the bond issue will increase the tax rate for the years 2021 through 2030. The qualification was fair. Still, it was a huge concession. Proponents are giving major emphasis to their claim that the bond issue won't raise the tax rate.

After the forum, I was approached by a fellow named Keith who works for McCarthy Building Cos., the firm from St. Louis with more than $1 million at stake on this bond issue and a major contributor to the vote yes campaign, according to the Missourian. He said he was going to talk to Dr. Welker about that concession. His take is that the bond issue is a "continuation" of the tax.

This was my take.

The school tax is currently $4.15 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation. It is made up of two components. The major component is for the operating budget. It's about $3.45. The other component of the school tax is the debt service levy and it's about 70 cents per hundred dollars assessed valuation. If we don't vote for this bond issue or any other tax increases between now and 2020, the debt service levy will go  away. Right now, if we stop passing new taxes, we're looking at a $3.45 school tax levy in the year 2021. If this bond issue passes it raises the levy back up to $4.15 for the ten year period 2021-2030. Thus, if the bond issue passes, it will raise the tax rate.

Proponents Worded the Ballot Language as They Chose

I told the audience and Dr. Welker that I had been to the county clerk's office on Wednesday, with the intention of fussing at Kara Clark about the ballot language. I assumed she approved the wording, particularly the business about it not increasing the tax rate. Kara was not in, but Patti, who works there, told me that they just took what presumably the lawyers for the school board had written and printed that. I asked Dr. Welker if they had to get the ballot language approved by the Secretary of State's office or if they just got to say whatever they wanted. His response was to name the law firm they worked with to come up with the ballot language.

Not as Much Room in the Operating Budget as I Thought

Finally, in response to the complaint that the operating budget was insufficient to maintain the buildings I asked why they chose to spend $20 million out of operating funds to build the alternative school instead of maintain the existing buildings. Dr. Welker responded that they had only spent $2 million on the alternative school. I picked up the $20 million figure from a Missourian story. I didn't say where I got the $20 million figure and admitted there was a huge difference between the two figures. I tried to recover by saying that they could have at least replaced the roof on Clippard school for that amount.

Fight the Tax

The Cape County Libertarian Party is working to defeat the $40 million school bond proposal on the April 6 ballot.  We have prepared a flyer, and we invite others to distribute it.

Yard signs are available, too.  If you're interested in helping, send an e-mail to

The plan's greatest weakness is the use of $10 million of the debt to build an auditorium and sports stadium at the high school.  Inclusion of the auditorium was even a point of contention among school board members, although they did eventually unanimously support proposing the bond issue for a vote.

The Master Facility Plan is available at the school board's website,

Framing the Argument

A new high school auditorium and sports stadium are not priorities for Cape Girardeau.

Although a fix for our sewage treatment problem could probably be had cheaper, it's clearly a priority for the community.  We are dumping raw sewage into the river during heavy rains.

A new sewage treatment plant is the most expensive item [in] Cape Girardeau's list of needed capital improvements. And despite the city having no money to build the $73 million project, it is something that must be done soon.
                Southeast Missourian

The city has other projects, too.
From the same Southeast Missourian story:

"Of the $222 million in identified projects, only $28.2 million have a secure source of funding."

Among them, 

* Transportation, $62.9 million, with $49.1 million unfunded. Passage of a sales tax extension, called TTF-4, expected to be on the ballot in August, would reduce the unfunded amount by more than $20 million.
* Environment, $126.9 million, with $117.7 million unfunded.
* Recreation, $7.9 million, with $2.7 million unfunded.
* Community Development, $24.3 million, all unfunded.
Southeast Missourian

The Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party, founded in 1971. Our vision is for a world in which all individuals can freely exercise the natural right of sole dominion over their own lives, liberty and property by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office, and moving public policy in a libertarian direction.

Take The Quiz


Cape Girardeau County
Libertarian Party
(573) 651-3733