SLP School Board approves decrease in 2014 property tax levy

The Spring Lake Park School Board approved District 16’s final 2014 property tax levy Dec. 17.

Set at $19,966,231, the 2014 levy decreased 1.14 percent from 2013’s $20,195,753. The figure is still slightly higher than it was in 2012.

More state aid, available with revised equalization rates and formulas, and two refinanced leases have allowed the district to cut the levy, according to Amy Schultz, business director for the district.

“The school district’s revenue itself stayed neutral; however, the state picked up a portion that previously was covered by taxpayers, so it actually helped reduce the property tax levy this year,” Schultz said at the Truth and Taxation hearing, part of the regular school board meeting Dec. 17.

No residents spoke at the public hearing.

A new student achievement levy added $109,473 to residents’ taxes, but overall, the general fund still saw a decrease of 4.77 percent, thanks primarily to referendum authority savings. The community service fund levy decreased slightly, by $553. Both the debt service and OPEB debt service levies increased.

Legislative changes allow school districts to move levy dollars from voter-approved to board-authorized referendum and location equity revenue, but the district did not take full advantage of the change.

“We’re really passing along the savings,” Schultz said when the preliminary levy was approved. “We’re continually looking at ways to keep our property taxes down.”

2013-2014 budget

Although the 2014 levy will finance the 2014-2015 budget, the district is required by law to report on its current year budget at the Truth in Taxation hearing.

The revenue budget is $69,839,409. Expenditures exceeded revenues this year by more than $3.5 million because the district planned facilities projects, setting aside money last year, Schultz said.

Within the general fund, capital and equipment expenditures have doubled this year, from 6 to 12 percent, to fund facilities projects.

The budget is reviewed throughout the school year before it is approved for the final time by the board in June, Schultz said.

Market values   

In addition to changes in levy calculations, changes in market values, both individually and districtwide, alter how much residents will pay in property taxes.

The average home in the district has seen its taxable market value increase by $2,400 from 2013, according to Jodie Raymond, a tax and assessment research analyst for Anoka County.

But taxes will still decrease. The average home in the district, assessed at $151,700 in 2013, will pay an estimated $976 in school district taxes in 2014. Homeowners paid $1,019 in 2013.

The 2014 average home value, $154,100, will produce an estimated $990 in school district taxes.

To view the complete Truth in Taxation presentation, visit the Spring Lake Park School District’s website, http://www.springlakeparkschools.org.

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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