Mt. Vernon Register-News

November 14, 2013

MVTHS may seek levy hike

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Mt. Vernon Township High School is considering a tax levy increase of 7.912 percent for fiscal year 2013-2014.

Even so, the district would only likely receive about a 3 percent increase, given tax caps and other restrictions, said Superintendent Michael Smith.

Often, districts ask for more revenue than they will receive with the levy to ensure they are not missing out on any dollars from new property growth, Smith said.

“You wouldn't want to miss those dollars on your new property,” Smith said. “We call that ballooning the levy. You balloon the levy knowing in all likelihood you'll get less than half of what you ask for.”

Smith presented the district's new proposed tentative tax levy at a meeting Tuesday afternoon of the MVTHS Board of Education's Finance Committee.

His recommendation is for the district to levy $8,926,465 for 2013-2014, a 7.912 percent increase over the prior year.

There are two main components of the levy — existing property values and new property values. District officials estimate amounts for these components and then add them together to determine the total levy, Smith said.

For existing property values, districts are limited in how large of a levy increase they can have. The increase is restricted to December's Consumer Price Index amount or 5 percent, whichever is lower, Smith said.

Most likely, the CPI will be lower than 5 percent next month given recent trends. The third quarter CPI figure as of September was at 1.2 percent.

The hope, though, is that the total levy increase will reach about 3 percent when the district factors in the new property growth, Smith said.

Tax caps prevent the district from collecting more than a 5 percent total increase with the levy.

“There is some new growth occurring in the community,” Smith said. “We want to be sure they are included in the overall assessment for the district.”

Another important factor in determining the levy is Jefferson County's equalized assessed valuation.

However, district officials have to use past years' EAV figures to come up with an estimate since the verified 2013 data won't be available until next year.

MVTHS Board President Carl Miller said he's satisfied with the tentative levy Smith is proposing.

“If the state funded us better like they're supposed to, we wouldn't have to do that,” Miller said of the levy increase.

The MVTHS Board will vote on announcing the tentative tax levy at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 19. The levy would then be formally adopted at the Dec. 16 meeting.

Because the proposed levy increase is over 5 percent, a Truth in Taxation hearing will have to be held. This hearing will likely be scheduled for just prior to the Dec. 16 board meeting.