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Louisiana school board joins battle against Ameren tax reassessment

Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Add the Louisiana R-II School Board to the entities battling an attempt by Ameren Missouri to slash its property tax bill in rural Missouri counties.
The board joined districts and towns from 19 counties on Monday, Aug. 18, allocating $10,000 for the legal battle against Ameren. It would save the R-II schools $30,000 should it be successful, according to Superintendent Dr. Richard Basden.
The Louisiana City Council allocated $2,045 on Aug. 11 as well for the battle to not cut the assessment of property taxes on Ameren gas equipment in Pike County.
The Bowling Green R-I School Board has also donated its pro-rated share to the $26,000 Pike County is paying an attorney and an appraiser  for the fight, according to Pike County Assessor Donna Prior.
The 19 counties are paying a collective $1 million to stop Ameren’s gas service tax cutting appeals, Prior said.
Ameren and other utilities are expected to challenge taxes on electric equipment next, Prior said, further hacking government revenue should they prove successful.
“We can’t let big companies push us around,” said R-II board member Wes Patton before a 4-0 vote to spend the $10,000 for the fight. Patton and board members Pam Todd-Watts, Lori Helkey and Josh DePriest voted yes. Board members Daryle Wallace, Melissa Corbin and Rob Lumley were all absent, due to professional obligations, according to school board Clerk Sheila Patton.
The board also voted 4-0 to raise the district property tax levy 6.76 cents to $3.8999 per $100 of valuation. That’s a return to the 2012 rate after six cents was slashed off the 2013 levy.
The swing was due to the district’s overall tax assessment dropping $1 million over the last year, Basden said. The loss was caused by demolition at Hercules and the reduction of other taxable property, Basden said.
The rate still holds the line of $3.90 or less that voters were promised before approving the last school bond issue, Basden said. It also keeps the district’s property tax revenues even compared to last year.

Even though the rate was raised, the district may still have to dip into reserves this year to pay for capital projects like the recent repaving of the high school and middle school parking lots, Basden added.