Park Hill completes purchase of land with expansion in mind

Moving forward with its planned expansion, the Park Hill board of education closed on the purchase of more than 40 acres for construction of new school facilities. 

The $1.54 million purchase deal closed Monday, Aug. 8, sealing the deal for the purchase of 41.7 acres at the southwest corner of Northwest 56th Street and North Northwood Road in Kansas City North. The property is near Houston Lake, just south of Southeast Elementary School. 

According to a statement from the district, the land acquisition fulfills a commitment made by the board of education as part of a $49.5 million no-tax-increase bond issue approved by voters in 2011. 

The newly acquired land is one of more than 20 properties reviewed during the past five years. The selection process was based on criteria that included specifications such as location, zoning, utilities, relationship to population, cost of site preparation, etc. The selected site scored highest on the criteria and was purchased at a fair market price.

The district has experienced steady one to two percent growth for the past 30 years and a 3.7 percent jump in student enrollment in 2015-16. 

The board also heard an update on the district’s 2016-17 tax rate at the Thursday, Aug. 11 regular board meeting. 

For the 2015-16 school year, the district’s total levy was set at $5.56 per $100 assessed valuation. The operational levy was at the ceiling of $4.95 with a debt levy of 61 cents. 
According to assistant superintendent Dr. Paul Kelly, the proposed 2016-17 levy is $5.52, due to a reduction of the district’s operational tax levy ceiling. 

The district recently received its certified assessed values for 2016 real estate and personal property from Platte County. The aggregate assessed values increased by $62.3 million — a 4.1 percent increase — over last year. The total assessed valuation for 2016 is more than $1.5 billion. New construction and improvements accounted for $14.2 million in new assessed valuation, and assessments on existing real property increased by $19.2 million. In addition, assessed valuation for personal property increased from $319.9 million to $348.7 million.

In 2002, voters approved an operating levy increase, raising the levy to $4.99, though the actual allowable levy has varied due to fluctuations in certified assessed values and the Hancock Amendment, which mandates that districts must remain revenue neutral. The Missouri State Auditor lowered the district’s tax rate ceiling in July, due to the assessment increase. The levy ceiling was lowered from it’s 2015 rate of $4.95 to $4.94. Application of the Hancock Amendment further lowered the ceiling, from $4.94 to $4.91

The district’s 2016-17 budget was approved last month, assuming there would be a one percent increase in assessed valuation, instead of an over four percent increase. Additionally, the budget assumed the tax ceiling would remain at $4.95.

To adjust these numbers and remain in compliance with the Hancock Amendment, Kelly recommended the debt levy be set at 61 cents to remain consistent with no-tax-increase bond sales approved by voters in 2006 and 2011. The operating levy would be set at $4.91.
A public hearing will be held during the Thursday, Aug. 25 board meeting before they set the levy.