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Tax levy drops in proposed Dist. 20 budget

Teahon: School board mindful of high ag land valuation

District 20 could receive a million less in state aid next year but it’s a gamble school board members are prepared to make.

By dropping the tax levy 12%, in the proposed 2013-14 budget, school board members hope to mitigate what patrons pay in property taxes, according to superintendent Dr. Mike Teahon.

Teahon said the district will get less in state aid money next year for allowing the levy to drop 4.5 cents below the state-required 94.5-cent minimum.

State law dictates that schools fashion budgets with levies between 95 cents and $1.05.

Money generated from the levy is used in the general, special building and bond funds.

Ag land valuation too high

“It’s a balancing act,” Teahon said. “We felt the valuation increase on ag land was too high.”

The state aid formula sees high valuation (13% more than last year) as an increase in the ability of local school districts to support their school which, in District 20’s case, results in fewer state dollars, he said.

By dropping the tax levy, owners of property valued at $100,000, will pay $120 less in taxes if the value of their properties didn’t rise.

District patrons will collectively pay $79,091 more in property taxes with a proposed asking of $6,273,424.

That figure represents a 1.28% increase over last year.

A proposed budget of $12,283,853 is about 8.8% more tha last year’s amount of $11,286,698.

Teahon noted that the majority of the increase is in unused budget authority (see school budget box) as the actual budget increase is closer to 3.1%.

Low cost per pupil rate

Teahon described the budget as very conservative and noted that the district continues to be efficient.

In fact, District 20—with a $9,973 cost per pupil—ranks 23rd out of 249 districts in having the lowest rate.

As far as district projects this next year, Teahon said officials have budgeted for the replacement of playground equipment and perhaps upgrading the visitor bleachers on the north side of the football field—a wish item that has been cost prohibitive.

District officials have also applied for a grant to help buy an electric car.

Projects on a long-range planning list include the addition of a greenhouse, the possibility of a school-based preschool and addressing classroom issues if enrollment continues to increase.

School board members, who crafted the budget with Teahon’s help, will have a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. and tax request at 7:15 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9, in the media center.

A more detailed budget can be reviewed in the superintendent’s office.

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