Monday, Oct. 01 2012 4:42PM
R-7 district may endorse Prop. B
If passed, measure would help fund public schools
By Toriano Porter
The vote wasn’t official.
Just a wave of nods in agreement Sept. 20 from members of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School Board after David McGehee, district superintendent, asked the board for a consensus for McGehee to cast a vote on behalf of the district to endorse Proposition B in November’s election.
If passed, the measure would increase the tax on tobacco products and provide funding for Missouri public schools.
McGehee said the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City has been polling member districts to determine the level of support for Proposition B and he expects that the co-op’s board of directors, on which McGehee serves, will be asked to vote to endorse Proposition B, which will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“I like nods,” McGehee said to the board after they gave him the approval he sought. “Nods are good.”
If approved, Proposition B would result in a 73-cent increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes, bringing the Missouri tax to 90 cents per pack. At the current 17 cents per pack, Missouri’s tobacco tax is the lowest in the nation with the average state tax at $1.49 per pack.
Fifty percent of revenue stemming from the measure would be earmarked for K-12 public schools.
According to the district, the ballot issue is supported by a coalition of groups, led by the American Cancer Society and including the Missouri School Boards Association. The measure has also been endorsed by the Missouri Association of School Administrators and the Missouri Board of Education.
According to the Kansas City Star, the state auditor has estimated that Missouri would receive from $283 million to $423 million in new annual revenue. The revenue would be divided three ways: 20 percent to fund smoking prevention and cessation programs, 50 percent designated for Missouri’s elementary and secondary public schools and 30 percent to Missouri’s colleges and universities.
Similar tobacco tax hikes were on the Missouri ballot in 2002 and 2006, but both failed, receiving 49 percent of the vote. According to the R-7 district, the November 2012 tax hike differs from the past two measures due to the fact that the majority of funds generated would go to education.
In addition – per McGehee’s report – it has been reported that “Big Tobacco” is not donating money to fight the tax hike as was the case in previous elections.
In other district news, the board approved a property-tax rollback amounting to 4.71 cents (or $0.0471) per $100 assessed valuation, when compared to the previous year’s tax rate.
The board made the decision at its annual tax-rate hearing Sept. 20.
According to the Missouri Constitution, the amount of money a school district may gain from property value increases is capped.
The cap is based on a formula that includes assessment growth and requires that school districts use the lowest of several factors for the cap. In the case of the R-7 School District, the cap used was the growth in assessed value, which totaled 0.1840 percent compared to the Consumer Price Index, which totaled 3 percent.
With the rollback, the Lee’s Summit R-7 tax rate for 2012-13 will be $6.0579 per $100 assessed valuation.