Dan Wehmer - Publisher's Pen

Dan Wehmer

New Seymour R-II School District Superintendent Steve Richards visited last week’s post-Seymour Apple Festival meeting of the Seymour Merchants’ Association.

Reason for his visit?

To provide information on the upcoming Nov. 5 ballot issue asking district patrons to approve a 75-cent levy for the local school.

Richards wasn’t in sales mode.

As he explained, that’s not his role when presenting facts about the levy.

However, the facts painted a pretty clear picture.

Currently, the Seymour school has the lowest tax levy allowed by Missouri public schools to receive federal and state aid. There’s not a lower school-tax rate than the one found in Seymour.

“When I first joined the school board 26 years ago, the levy was the same as it is today,” noted Kirk Penner, chairman and president of The Seymour Bank. “There’s no doubt that an increase is needed for the benefit of our students.”

Few, if any, likely pay more school taxes than Mr. Penner.

“I can’t emphasize this enough ... please, please, please vote for this levy,” added Todd Kleier of Seymour’s Kleier Farm & Home. “I served on the (school) board for a lot of years, and I know the need. This isn’t the school asking for extra money. It’s the school asking for our help to survive for the sake of our kids.”

About 30 people were present at last Wednesday’s meeting of the merchants. Ages ranged from the early 20s through the 80s.

And if the meeting was a straw poll, the levy had unanimous support. There wasn’t a negative comment.

If approved on Nov. 5, Seymour’s school-tax levy will increase from $2.75 to $3.50 per $100 of assessed valuation.

It will generate about $425,000 in annual revenue for a district with an annual budget of about $8.5 million.

“It will make a difference, without a doubt,” Richards said. “We’ll be able to address a lot of issue that truly need to be addressed, ranging from renovating our older buildings to improving our services to prepare our students for careers after high school.

“We also will be able to invest in our staff. I see that as an investment in both our children and our community.”

What’s the cost?

For example, a $50,000 home on less than five acres has an assessed valuation of $9,500. At the new levy rate of $3.50, the property owner would see a $71 increase on their annual real-estate taxes.

That’s $5.91 a month.

The owner of agricultural land valued at $100,000 would see an increase of $90 a year — or $7.50 a month.

Richards noted that 94 percent, or 494 out of the 520 school districts in Missouri, have a school-tax levy rate higher than the $2.75 in Seymour.

Need a nearby example?

Mansfield is at $4.10.

Rogersville is $4.01.

Marshfield’s rate is $3.84.

Fordland is at $3.51.

If the Nov. 5 levy passes, Seymour’s rate will be $3.50, still lower than the rates listed above for neighboring school districts.

Beverly Barlow, the widow of longtime Seymour High School Principal Wayne Barlow, even made this observation:

“My goodness, Niangua’s levy is more than a dollar higher than ours!”

Throughout the month, Richards, as well as a local committee of levy supporters from throughout the community, will canvas district events, distributing information while answering questions.

“I welcome any and all questions about this levy issue,” Richards said at the conclusion of his presentation. “My door is open at my office. If any school patron has anything they want to know about the levy or the school, come by the administration office and ask me.”

Reading time, one minute:

• Free Terracotta.

• Our speculation of the newest business to be built at the

“Owen property” at Seymour’s east edge? Dollar Tree. No, I’ve not got any inside information. Just a gut feeling.

• City Administrator Hillary Gintz reported last month that sales-tax revenue in Seymour increased in August 2019 versus August 2018. The amount? Nearly 30 percent. She expects another increase when the September figures are announced later this month.

Dan Wehmer is the Citizen’s editor, publisher and owner. He can be reached at 417-935-2257 or via e-mail at citizen@ webstercountycitizen.com.

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