Prior to me becoming Superintendent of Schools in Keytesville, the county seat of Chariton County, the previous administration had the good fortune to oversee a new pipeline project that brought much-needed tax revenue to Chariton County. This allowed the district to roll back the school property tax levy by a nickel.
Currently, we have a similar opportunity in Chariton County from an approved energy infrastructure project, the Grain Belt Express. Our school is small, but the benefits from the project can make a huge positive impact on the viability and vitality of our district. In Chariton County, 11 of the 12 top taxpaying entities that contribute to our funds are utilities that have been granted the same public utility status by the Missouri Public Service Commission as the Grain Belt Express project. If it weren’t for our public utilities like Grain Belt Express, our citizens would face a cumbersome tax burden, and a dramatic negative impact to school funding would result if these utilities weren’t present.
In Chariton County alone, the Grain Belt Express project will add $1.3 million in sales and property taxes during construction and $8.7 million in property taxes over the first 10 years of operation. Grain Belt Express will also be a big step forward for electric reliability in Missouri, enabling us to import power from other markets in the event of severe weather emergencies like this past February. Many times, a project of this magnitude is made with financial incentives, tax breaks, and abatements, but the investment in the Grain Belt project for Missouri comes with no state subsidies or incentives.
With the tax windfall, jobs, and energy savings and reliability, this project just makes sense for Missouri. It will benefit citizens and promote a brighter future for our students and the students of all the school districts that stand to benefit in counties along the route. I urge anyone in the legislative process that is now under consideration to understand what this project means for rural students and to stand strong in support for what the Missouri Public Service Commission, the Eastern District Appellate Court, and the Missouri Supreme Court have already sanctioned.
Joshua Shoemaker is the Superintendent of Schools in Keytesville.