District gearing up for tax levy vote

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Faced with grim economic prospects for the coming year, the Concordia R-II Board of Education is going to voters and asking them for help.

Pitching a levy increase in a down economy can be a tough sell, but Superintendent Mary Beth Scherer is already mobilizing for the effort. She is determined that before voters go to the polls in April they know as much as possible about the issue.

A public forum on the issue is scheduled for March 25 and 20 different 30-second radio ads will begin running the week before the vote.

"We will run three a day for six days and two the day of the elections," Scherer said.

The district is also mustering volunteers for a door-to-door campaign that will hand out fliers the week of March 22 to 27. There will be a volunteers meeting at 3:30 p.m. on March 18.

In addition to the door-to-door effort, a mailer will go out the week before the election and another committee will call voters the day before the election. Scherer said the district's volunteers are also working to get people registered to vote and making sure those who will be out of town are prepared to cast absentee ballots.

Finally, Scherer said she will be spreading the word herself with presentations to both the Concordia Civic Club and the Lions Club later this month.

The district's effort comes at a time when the Missouri Senate has been presented a joint resolution sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle that would require that any ballot measure to increase tax rates be placed on the ballot of a general election. Those elections are held in November of even numbered years.

The resolution would allow ballot issues for taxes to be put forth in other years, but they would require a 60 percent voter approval rather than a simple majority to pass.

"This would make our job a lot tougher and give us less flexibility in a time that flexibility is crucial," Scherer said.

District officials are also keeping an eye on Senate Joint Resolution 29, the "fair tax proposal."

This measure seeks to replace many taxes, including income tax, corporate franchise and bank franchise taxes as well as all existing state sales and use taxes with a maximum 7 percent modified tax on goods and services.

"The concerns are that income tax is the most reliable revenue source and over a long term this would likely depress revenues resulting in a lack of funds for education and other state supported services," Scherer said.

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