by Valerie Verkamp
The Platte County R-3 School District will be asking voters in April to approve a significant expansion--and with it, a significant tax increase--making this election year extremely noteworthy.
The proposed project was triggered by continued enrollment growth to the district.
R-3 has accumulated as many as 700 new students in the last four years.
The projected cost of the district's expansion is $21 million which would bring a voter approved 60-cent levy increase.
The cost of the R-3 tax increase, of course, will compare quite differently to the various homeowners in the district depending upon the value of the home.
For example, the tax hike on a home valued at $100,000 will cost families approximately $114 per year. That is $9.50 a month.
If your home is valued at $150,000, the tax hike is $171 per year. That is $14.25 a month.
For families residing in a home valued at $200,000, the levy increase will bring a tax hike of $228 per year or $19 a month.
The R-3 tax increase on a home valued at $300,000 will cost patrons approximately $342 a year or $28.50 a month.
According to the Platte County Assessor’s office, 67.6% of a taxpayer’s property tax bill goes to schools.
A large chunk of the $21 million expansion would finance the construction of a 65,000 square foot elementary school in Platte City. The preliminary design of the new school reveals the construction of 20 to 24 standard size classrooms to accommodate 600 students. Additionally, the school will be equipped with a gymnasium, media center, and full service kitchen.
If voters approve the levy hike this April, homeowners will also finance a 13,500 square foot expansion to Pathfinder Elementary School with the addition of 7-9 classrooms. The cost range for this project ranges from $2,700,000 to $3,150,000.
With the addition of the new school and the expansion to Pathfinder, Rising Star Elementary, a 60-year-old facility, will be shut down.
Financing improvements to the high school, as well as many district enhancements are included in the district's proposal. The cost for improvements at the high school totals approximately $1,000,000. The high school work would be the first step in a series of future additions to be made at the Platte County R-3 High School.
This round of improvements includes the addition of faculty planning centers, a parking lot and bus corral expansion, as well as replacing two tennis courts that will be destroyed by the parking lot expansion.
The district enhancements include security and technology improvements such as security cameras, district technology upgrades, and an electronic access system. The projected cost for the district-wide security and technology improvement plan ranges from $200,000 to $500,000.
Maintenance projects and improvements to the facilities to improve overall energy consumption are also bundled in the $21 million tax increase.
The April ballot will seek voters’ permission to “fully eliminate the reduction in the operating tax levy (Proposition C rollback) for school purposes resulting from sales tax revenues” and to “increase the operating tax levy ceiling of the district to $4.0688 per $100 of assessed valuation,” thereby increasing the district's operating levy by 60 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
According to the school's website, approximately $0.32 of the proposed levy increase will be paid to the debt linked to the construction of the schools and $0.28 will be allocated to the operational cost of the increased space.
If the district successfully achieves its levy increase, the construction of the new school and other facilities will begin soon after the bidding process.
Platte County R-3 officials say the district has the third lowest tax levy in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
The deadline to register to vote in the April 3 election is March 7.