Next Tuesday, a single issue awaits Seymour voters on their respective ballots.
A levy increase for the Seymour R-II School District.
The local school is asking district patrons to approve a 75-cent levy increase, which would move the property-tax rate from $2.75 to $3.50 per $100 of assessed valuation.
If approved, the tax issue would generate an estimated $425,000 in annual revenue.
Currently, Seymour’s school has the lowest tax levy now allowed by Missouri’s public schools to receive federal and state aid. There is not a lower school-tax rate in Missouri than the one found in Seymour.
“No one likes tax increases ... I don’t like them,” Superintendent Steve Richards said. “However, our school board was correct is assessing that for us to continue to effectively educate our children, a higher local contribution rate desperately is needed.”
Ninety-four percent — or 494 out of the 520 public schooldistricts in Missouri — have a school-tax levy higher than $2.75.
Even if next Tuesday’s ballot issue passes, four neighboring public-school districts still will have a higher levy than Seymour’s.
Mansfield’s school levy is $4.10, while Marshfield’s rate is $3.84. In Hartville, the tax levy is $3.54; Fordland’s now sits at $3.51.
Two other districts that serve Webster County have rates more than $1 higher than the one found in Seymour. Nearby Rogersville’s school levy is $4.01, while the rate in Niangua is $3.88.
“When the (school) board decided to ask for a 75-cent increase, a lot of discussion and study was done on asking for a little as possible while still giving the district the revenue needed to serve our students,” Richards explained.
“If the 75-cent increase passes (on Tuesday), our school levy still will remain lower than what patrons pay in Fordland, Hartville, Mansfi eld, Marshfi eld, Niangua and Rogersville, all schools that border us or are within our county.”
State statistics show that if the 75-cent levy is approved by a majority of the district’s voters and Seymour’s levy is increased to $3.50, 83 percent — or 441 out of the 520 public-school districts in Missouri — still will have a higher levy than $3.50.
“We’re not asking for a Cadillac,” Richards said.
“What we are asking for in that analogy is a vehicle that just starts when you turn the key.”
How much will the levy cost taxpayers?
In an informational brochure distributed over the past month throughout the community, the school cites specific examples of the tax-increase impact.
On a residential home with a market value of $50,000, the tax increase will be $71 a year, which is a monthly hike of $5.91.
Agricultural land valued at $100,000 would see its tax rate jump by $90 annually — $7.50 per month.
Richards cited an example of the tax impact to a local family with two elementary-aged children.
“If you are the parent of two children at the Seymour Elementary School and own a home valued at $100,000, then your annual tax increase will be $142,” he said. “However, the district has pledged to purchase all school supplies for elementary children if the levy passes, which have an annual cost of $75 per child, so the net tax impact would be an annual savings of $8.”
And it’s certain that school supplies will be covered if the levy passes?
“That’s already been budgeted if the levy increase passes,” Richards said. “At the present time, we just can’t afford to do that. With the extra 75 cents, we can. That will be the first thing we do to alleviate that expense for our families.”
He said several other improvements immediately will come if the levy passes.
“Another thing atop our list is renovation and restoration of the school’s restroom facilities,” Richards noted, adding that other renovations are planned, including an expanded entrance at the high school and needed repairs for maximize the lifetime of the elementary school, built in 1958, and the high school, built in 1966.”
Richards added, “We’re not looking at anything frivolous. There’s not a gym being built. We’re not buying needless things. We’re just trying to provide the same educational opportunities that kids in neighboring schools receive.”
Another future focus is improving academic and job-centered services to prepare Seymour’s students for careers after high school.
“The fact is that not every child wants to go to college,”
Richards said. “Throughout the U.S., there is a huge need for skilled workers. We have to enhance those vocational opportunities for our children here. Electricians and plumbers can earn a very good living.”
A simple majority is required next Tuesday for the levy’s passage.
There are three polling places for school voters, depending on their respective precincts.
In the Hazelwood and Finley townships, votes will be cast at the Seymour Nazarene Church. For voters in Diggins, the polling place is the Diggins Community Building. And in the High Prairie Township, patrons vote at the Prospect Fire Building on Highway C.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Any final words from Richards?
“I just want to let our patrons know that by investing in our school and our students, we also are making a lifetime investment in our community,” he said. “If anyone, and I mean anyone, has any questions about the levy issue, our school’s finances or any general questions about the district, my door always is open. Come see me at the administration building at any time.”