Dist. 11 resolves to decrease tax levy

The Anoka-Hennepin District 11 School Board voted unanimously to adopt the 2014 final tax levy Dec. 9.

The levy will bring nearly $6.5 million in relief for taxpayers, representing a 6.57 percent decrease from the 2013 levy.

The 2014 property tax levy is set at $92,082,469. In 2013, the levy was more than $98.5 million.

Reductions are possible thanks in large part to legislative changes that provide increased state aid with revised equalization rates or formulas for referendum and location equity, career and technical, as well as operating capital revenues.

The referendum levy was slashed nearly in half – from $48.5 million to $26.5 million – but much of the savings shifted to location equity with new formulas. So, taxpayers see $10 million in savings.

The alternative facilities levy will increase significantly, from almost $600,000 to more than $8 million. The dollars will fund construction projects necessary to accommodate all-day, everyday kindergarten districtwide in the fall of 2014, according to Chief Financial Officer Michelle Vargas.

Still, the general fund, community service fund, debt service fund and other post employment benefits fund will all see decreases.

The debt service fund will decrease by almost 12 percent, $2.5 million.

“The district hasn’t issued debt for quite some time so that’s kind of a continuous pace we’ll be looking at,” Vargas said at the Truth in Taxation hearing, part of the regular school board meeting Dec. 9.

Although Vargas spent a significant portion of the Truth in Taxation presentation addressing the district’s budget and explaining legislative changes, “I think most importantly what people are looking at is the impact on the taxpayer,” she said.

The Anoka-Hennepin tax base decreased by almost 9 percent in 2013, offsetting the levy’s decrease to some extent.

According to Vargas, if the levy stayed the same, “everybody’s going to pay more because there’s less of [a base] to spread on.”

With a 6.57 percent decrease, almost everyone should see savings. Exceptions would be seasonal recreational residential property, agricultural homestead property with high value, agricultural non-homestead property and property where the market value soared.

Seasonal recreational residential property, making up .01 percent of the Anoka-Hennepin District, and agricultural properties with high acreage will see an increase in property taxes because they are not taxed for referendum and would not see that $22 million relief.

A $150,000 homestead residence will see a decrease of $81 in district property taxes, paying $665 in 2014. With depreciation taken into account, that same $150,000 home, now worth $136,598, would see a decrease of $150 from 2013 and pay $596 in 2014.

Commercial and industrial property will see decreases across the board. Only 14 percent of property in District 11 falls into this category, Vargas said.

“That’s why our homeowners take the brunt of the taxes,” she said.

No residents spoke at the Truth in Taxation hearing, Board Chairman Tom Heidemann surmised because taxes decreased.

The board approved the tax levy for certification without any discussion.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]