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Moniteau School Board approves $24M budget, tax increase

CHERRY TWP — The Moniteau School District board of directors approved the district’s proposed $24 million 2023-24 general fund budget Monday, May 22, which includes a 3.50-mill real estate tax increase.

It was estimated the proposed increase would cost the average homeowner in the district an additional $52 per year.

Board member Michael Baptiste asked that the finance committee explain the district’s situation, as the district is facing a deficit.

Randy Armagost, finance committee chairman, said they lost their business manager more than nine months ago, and there still are audits being done and unknown factors related to the budget.

“This budget will not be passed until June,” Armagost said. “We’re still working on it. This is still a work in progress. This is what it is as of today.”

“This problem is not caused by people not applying, not doing,” said board member Joann Duke. “This was, putting it blunt, accounting errors.” Armagost echoed the assessment, saying budgets weren’t done correctly.

“I don’t think we, maybe, had the right people in right situations,” Armagost said, “they’re not here anymore.”

Scott Dittman, a Clay Township resident, asked if they could look forward to a comprehensive plan to combat the deficit the district is facing.

“Instead of going down rabbit holes ... are we looking at — collectively — approaches to say: Here’s where we are relative to other districts in the county. Here’s where we can maybe look to help us understand,” Dittman said.

Armagost said the administration plans to continue having meetings throughout the year long once the auditors finish, as they can always lower a budget, but they can never raise it.

The approved budget will be made available to the public for 30 days, after which the board will take a final vote.

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