ST. LOUIS – A tax increase to fund updates to St. Louis Community College facilities and programs is on Tuesday’s ballot. A recent estimate by an outside firm says that the Forest Park, Florissant Valley, and Meramec campuses need $90 million in updates and repairs.
“Prop R would be an 8-cent increase to the current tax levy. It’s at 19 cents for $100 of appraised value of property,” said St. Louis Community College Chancellor Jeff Pittman. “It would be first the tax levy increase the college would see in 40 years and it would increase tax levy to 26-27 cents.”
Pittman says there are 2,500 nursing vacancies and Prop R is about providing funding for expanded infrastructure for our students to help fill those needs.
But Tom Sullivan, a concerned citizen, disagrees with passing Prop R.
“The problem with Prop R is it’s a big property tax increase – 40%,” he said. “It’s money for the community college and the college has lost 35% of its enrollment since 2013. That’s more than a third. And voters need to know you’re giving the community college a blank check.”
Sullivan says STLCC receives $70 million a year from property taxes, on top of $40 million from the state and $90 million from investments.
But Candice Carter Oliver, CEO of the Confluence Academy and co-sponsor of Prop R, says now is the time to invest in the community as there are large job vacancies in several sectors. That includes healthcare, IT, financial services, biotechnology, and manufacturing.
“St. Louis Community College has partnerships in the region with many K-12 school systems,” she said. “We partner with (the college) for the purpose in dual enrollments and credit opportunities for those in high school and some graduate with associates degrees.”