Mt. Vernon Register-News

November 6, 2013

District 80 considers tax levy hike

The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — The District 80 Finance Committee Tuesday recommended a tax levy increase of 8 percent for fiscal year 2013-2014.

Superintendent Mike Green said the committee's finding will still have to be approved by the Board of Education before it is enacted.

Even so, he said the proposed increase is likely the district's best course of action to ensure it does not miss out on any available funding.

Tax caps prevent the district from collecting more than a 5 percent increase, but it's common for the district to ask for more revenue than it is likely to receive, Green said.

“You're in a tax cap county so even though you ask for that, you didn't get that amount,” Green said. “What's unsure is how much new construction is out there and districts are just trying to capture those dollars. … You're levying all that you can so you don't miss out on any of the unknowns — new housing, new businesses.”

The Finance Committee made the recommendation at a special meeting Tuesday night.

During the session, committee members and district officials examined a number of different scenarios for how Jefferson County's equalized assessed valuation could impact the tax levy. The Consumer Price Index also affects the levy amount.

At the end of the discussion, the committee recommended a levy for 2013-2014 of $5,473,000, an 8 percent increase over the prior year.

However, the levy would only reach that amount if the local EAV were to increase by about 5.5 percent, which is unlikely considering recent history, Green said.

In 2010, the local EAV dropped from $185 million to $180 million. Then, for the next two years after that, the EAV was at around $173 million, Green said.

Finance Committee Chairman Merle Hollmann stressed Tuesday the importance of the district “maximizing” its tax revenue to keep up with inflation.

“What I don't want to do is leave money on the table,” Hollmann said.

Collecting revenue from the tax levy has become especially vital considering recent declines in state reimbursements, said Finance Committee member Matt Reynolds.

“We've got to try and get every possible dime we can,” Reynolds said.

If the district requests an 8 percent levy increase, it will have to hold a Truth in Taxation hearing. The law requires this hearing if a more than 5 percent increase is sought.

District 80 has not had such a hearing for the past two years. Prior to that, though, the district held them periodically.

Hollmann said objections were rare at previous hearings since tax caps protect local taxpayers from being “hurt” too badly by levy hikes.

The District 80 Board of Education will consider the proposed tax levy increase at its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13.

If the increase is approved, a Truth in Taxation hearing would likely be held at the board meeting in December.