St. Charles Community College (SCC) is returning to voters in Warren County with a new tax proposal that includes a commitment to build a local technical school.
Residents of the Wright City R-II and Warren County R-III school districts will be asked to vote on a 16.66-cent tax levy, labeled Proposition J, on Nov. 5. It is the only election topic in Warren County this November.
Residents of the two school districts will vote separately on nearly identical versions of Prop J, with only the name of the school district changed. It is possible for the proposition to pass in one district without the other.
If approved, the school districts would be annexed into SCC’s taxing district. They are already part of the community college’s extended service area, which offers limited programs and partnerships.
“The college’s goal is to provide the educational opportunities and workforce training that best meets the needs of employers and serves the citizens of Warren County,” SCC President Dr. Barbara Kavalier told The Record in an email.
The SCC tax would be levied on real estate and personal property. The levy of 16.66 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation would add about $32 to $63 per year to the tax for average Warren County homes.
Voters in April turned down a similar SCC tax proposal, also named Proposition J. The new version of Prop J’s proposed tax levy is marginally less than in April, but includes direct commitments about how the funding will be used.
One of the big sticking points for voters in April was that the ballot included no statements about how the taxes would be spent to benefit local students. SCC’s board of trustees later promised the funding would only be used on programs and facilities for Warren County residents, but that language wasn’t on the April ballot.
The new Prop J identifies how the funds will be used in three ways:
• Residents would pay in-district tuition to take any classes offered by SCC. This was true of the previous proposal, but now is directly stated.
• SCC would establish a “Warren County Regional Technical Education Center.”
• SCC would provide other programs and services specifically for Warren County residents.
Kavalier said the SCC Board of Trustees is committed to using the tax revenue for those purposes. And this time around, representatives of SCC will have more time to visit with the community about what the college has to offer.
“The college’s role in any tax levy campaign is simply to provide the facts and inform the voters about how the college will serve the county and what costs will be associated with approval of the levy,” Kavalier commented.
Beyond the promised technical training, Kavalier said SCC would work with a committee of Warren County business and community leaders to determine other education that could be provided through the community college. That could include general education classes, cultural arts programs, or continuing education for different age groups.
Businesses seek tech school
One of the major proponents for bringing a technical school to the local area is the Greater Warren County Economic Development Council (GWCEDC). The organization says local training will help existing businesses and draw new employers, and that there currently is a need for more skilled workers in Warren County.
“A technical training facility will enable our region to compete for the jobs of the future while meeting the needs of our existing businesses to find skilled workers,” the GWCEDC said in a statement. “A technical training center will help our community grow jobs in our existing businesses, attract new businesses, and increase wages for our area residents by enhancing their technical skills.”
After the April election, members of the economic development council said most people who understood what Prop J offered were supportive, but many voters didn’t have a clear understanding of the issue or the need for technical training.
The GWCEDC said for the November election, the ballot language is clearer about how tax revenue will be used for programs in Warren County. Proponents will focus on explaining what the overall community benefits would be if Prop J passes.
The GWCEDC said SCC is already demonstrating its commitment to Warren County by taking steps to offer training programs in advance of a tax levy being approved.
This is the full ballot language for the two versions of the Nov. 5, 2019, Proposition J:
“Shall the St. Charles Community College District, also known as the Community College District of St. Charles, Missouri, annex the properties located geographically in the (Wright City R-II School District/Warren County R-III School District) of Warren County, Missouri, effective the first day of January 2020?
“If this question is approved, revenue from the annexation will be used to provide:
• In-district tuition for Warren County residents taking classes from St. Charles Community College
• Support for the establishment of a Warren County Regional Technical Education Center
• Support for the addition of programs and services for Warren County residents provided by St. Charles Community College
“If this question is approved, the overall property tax levy for Warren County property owners in the affected school district will increase by the addition of a Community College tax levy of $0.1666 (16.66 cents) per one hundred dollars ($100.00) of assessed valuation.”
The ballot proposal only affects the Warren County R-III and Wright City R-II school districts. Anyone who lives in the Washington School District, including parts of the Marthasville area, would not be annexed into SCC.