Voters in the Van-Far R-I School District will be heading to the polls on Tuesday, August 8 to vote for or against a tax levy increase ballot item known as Proposition A.
A simple majority “Yes” vote is all that is needed to adjust the current operating levy by $.58 from $3.3901 to $3.9701 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation for the 2017 tax year.
The last time voters approved a levy increase was 11 years ago in 2006.
A lot has happened since 2006 to the district’s finances.
In the past five to six years, state revenues from the state for Van-Far have decreased approximately $500,000. Health insurance costs have also doubled in the last eight to 10 years.
With a potential loss of approximately $270,000 in AmerenUE dollars in 2020, the Van-Far R-I School Board voted 5-2 in April to add the measure to the ballot.
In recent years, the board has attempted to offset some of the losses by not replacing positions when possible along with freezing and reducing spending. They’ve done this while still trying to provide programming and materials for students while having a negative impact on them.
It’s current total levy is the same as the Holliday C-2 School District and is less than Mexico ($4.40) and EMO Conference districts Silex ($4.1482), Elsberry ($4.1306), Wellsville-Middletown ($4.4928), and Community R-VI ($4.5186).
The $.58 cent increase will push the district’s total levy to $4.58, which would be about $.08 more than Community R-VI.
A “Yes” vote could provide the district an estimated $245,000 in additional revenue. It would also help the district add to the base salary and provide a corresponding increase to non-certified staff.
Transportation will be helped with the possible purchasing of buses to replace the older buses. Yearly technology rotations could continue and facility upkeep and preventative maintenance of the district’s facilities could continue.
Some district patrons may want to know what this will cost them?
A full break down of its effect for residential personal property, commercial property, and agricultural property is available as a sidebar to this story.
For residents, an example of a $100,000 shows an annual expense of $110.20 per year or $9.91 per month.
It is important to note that the levy issue is different from a bond issue approved by voters in recent years.
Bonds can only be used for building or purchasing of capital projects (new buildings, additions, etc.)
Funds from an operating levy are used for teacher salaries and general operating costs like supplies, utilities, and more.
Proposition A informational meetings were held recently at the Farber Library and Van-Far Jr./Sr. High School with very few patrons in attendance.
During the meetings, Van-Far Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter went over the district’s financial situation and discussed some of the district’s revenues and expenses.
“We feel that education is a cornerstone of our community’s future and success and the school is the centerpiece of our community,” is noted in a flyer available to help patrons seek the breakdown.
“Our students of today are going to be our leaders of tomorrow. They are going to be our home owners, business owners, and neighbors.”
Polling locations include the Vandalia First Baptist Church Multi-purpose Building and Farber city Hall.
Voters can go to the polls from 6 a.m.-7 p.m.