School district conducts Truth in Taxation hearing

Business Director Michael Schwartz conducted the state-mandated Truth in Taxation hearing Monday, Dec. 3, during a Richfield School Board meeting. He outlined  a school tax proposal that would increase property taxes on the average homeowner by $66.23. Following the presentation, the board unanimously voted to certify the levy for taxes payable 2013.

Including voter approved levies and state-mandated local levies, the school district will collect $17.6 million from homeowners next year, a $1.1 million increase over taxes payable 2012. The increase the year prior was $165,000.

The district has an unreserved fund balance of $1.3 million.

Schwartz an increase in enrollment as one of the primary factors in the levy’s tax impact. The district’s levy rises along with spikes in enrollment, he explained, and Richfield has added about 100 students since last year.

The other primary property tax influencer has been a shift 10 years in the making. “The state’s share of school funding has continued to decline since 2002 in proportion to the local levy, with the school’s increasing dependence upon state approved special levies not requiring voter approval,” states a slide from Schwartz’s presentation.

The $60 per pupil levy increase that voters approved in November also contributed to the total amount. And, the 2013 levy compared to 2012 is affected by the fact the district returned $450,000 in facility bonds back to the state for 2012. The one-time reduction  reduced the 2012   levy amount, Schwartz said.

Other factors affecting homeowners were fluctuations in market values, changes in class rates, the Homestead Market Value Exclusion, abatements in fiscal disparities and property tax refunds, as outlined by Schwartz.

The money: Where it comes from, where it goes

State aid makes up 65 percent of the district’s budget. The local levy accounts for 26 percent. Six percent comes from federal funds and grants, while money collected from rentals, fees and investments contributes 3 percent.

The 2013 levy helps fulfill a $59.7 million expenditure budget for the 2012-2013 school year, a .5 percent decrease from last year.

Of that budget, $46.1 million goes to the district’s general fund, with 64 percent of that fund going toward salaries, 22 percent going to benefits and 14 percent used for other various categories.

In addition to the $66.23 increase for the average Richfield home, worth $169,000, Schwartz listed the tax impact for other home values. Taxes going to the school district will increase by $35.92 for a $100,000 home. For a $250,000, the increase is $101.80. It is $209.95 for a $500,000 home.

Of the district’s $41.9 million general fund budget, 64 percent goes toward staff salaries, 22 percent to employee benefits and 14 percent is for other expenditures. The district’s total budget includes food service and community education in addition to the general fund.

The school district tax levy amounts to 28 percent of property tax dollars paid in Richfield. For the remainder, 36 percent goes to the city, 27 percent to the county, and 7 percent to other pools.