Harrah's Tax Value Decision Could Have Huge Effect on Pattonville School District
The Pattonville School District could stand to gain more than $3 million or lose more than $1 million depending on the outcome of the Harrah's personal property tax value. A decision is expected in September.
With St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman and Harrah's Casino at odds over how much the Maryland Heights-casino is actually worth, officials at the Pattonville School District are anxiously awaiting a decision to see how the district should move forward in balancing its budget.
Zimmerman believes the value of the casino should be raised from $152 million to $439 million. That would mean the casino would owe $14.3 million in property taxes—up more than $8 million from what it paid last year.
The decision has a ripplee effect on Maryland Heights, especially its largest school system.
If Zimmerman's value is sustained — the county's board of equalization will decide by mid-September on the value —the district would gain $3.6 millin in operating levy funds and $600,000 in debt levy funds. If Harrah's gets its way — a $30 million valuation — then Pattonville school would lose $1.5 million in operating levy funds and $200,000 in debt levy funds.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the casino's lead attorney, Dan Peters, with the St. Louis firm of Herzog Crebs, argued that Zimmerman had wrongly conflated the sales price — which includes the ability of a business to generate revenue — with the physical value of the property, such as its slot machines, restaurant fixtures and parking garages.
Meanwhile, Pattonville officials continue their attempts to combat an increasingly grim budget scenario.
According to district documents, the economic downturn has lasted much longer than Pattonville officials anticipated. In fact, the district will run out of cash in five years if school officials don't act balancing the budget.
"Expense reductions alone will not be able to address the shortfall without a significant impact on how we educate students, and the quality of their education," a presentation made to the board earlier this month states.
Without change in budget structure, the district would be $5 million in debt in just three to four years.
For more on the school district's budget scenario, read Maryland Heights Patch's story on what officials could do to combat the issue.