Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that the state of Missouri will invest up to $1.5 million to help the Joplin School District meet its financial obligations for the 2011-2012 school year - and to avoid the need to raise property tax rates on area residents.
During a special meeting of the Joplin Board of Education this afternoon, Superintendent C.J. Huff explained that the extensive damage from the May 22 tornado also reduced the school district's property tax base. Without this help from the state, the district would have been forced to raise its property tax levies in 2012 to ensure adequate resources to operate its schools and finance its debt.
Gov. Nixon's announcement today ensures that the Joplin School District will have the resources it needs to operate this year - without raising taxes on Joplin residents or businesses.
"Ensuring that Joplin students have access to a quality education is a critical priority, but raising taxes on Joplin residents and businesses would hurt this recovery and simply isn't an option," Gov. Nixon said. "Making this critical investment provides schools and teachers the resources they need, and holds the line on taxes for the people of Joplin. As the Joplin community continues to move forward, the state of Missouri will continue to be there every step of the way. Together, we will rebuild this vibrant community."
Based on information from the Jasper and Newton County Assessors, Joplin school officials are projecting a significant drop in property tax revenues over the next year, including a drop of approximately $790,000 in residential property taxes in Jasper County alone. Gov. Nixon also has requested a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the tornado on local taxing jurisdictions from the Missouri Tax Commission and the Missouri Department of Revenue. Additional information regarding residential, commercial and personal property taxes from the counties will be available in early 2012.
Gov. Nixon's authorization of up to $1.5 million in funding will make up for this significant reduction in property tax revenue, ensuring that Joplin schools have the resources they need to educate students this year.
Gov. Nixon has reserved $150 million in the budget for the current fiscal year to help fund disaster recovery and relief efforts. The Governor has the authority to direct those funds as needed to support such efforts
Without the investment made by Gov. Nixon today, the school district would have begun proceedings to raise its levies on Friday.
"We appreciate Gov. Nixon's continued support and leadership for the Joplin Schools," Superintendent Huff said. "From day one, we've worked closely with Gov. Nixon's team to identify temporary locations to house our schools and to ensure that we would open our doors on time. This critical investment is another step forward for our district, our schools and our students."