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How much will the leeway cost you?

Article Date: 
22 March, 2013 (All day)

How much will come out of residents’ pockets if the voted leeway passes in June?  School district officials are revealing the amounts as they prepare for upcoming informational meetings with the public.
A rate of 0.001600 will be on the June ballot, which could generate up to $1.3 million in additional revenue for the district.  This rate is applied to each dollar of a property’s taxable value.  If the district assessed the leeway at the full 0.0016 allowed by law, a home with a market value of $200,000 would see an increase of about $176 annually.  
However, the board is seeking to increase funding by only $350,000 next school year, which would mean a lower rate of 0.000476.  At this lower rate, if your home has a market value of $100,000 in 2013, passage of the leeway would mean you pay an extra $26.18 per year.  That would be $39.27 for a home worth $150,000; $52.36 for a home worth $200,000; $78.54 for a home worth $300,000; and $104.71 for a home worth $400,000.
Since homes are taxed at 55 percent of market value and commercial businesses are taxed at full market value, passage of the leeway would amount to almost double the figures above.
Those amounts would lower if the district proceeds with their plans to refinance bonds.  Refinancing the 2007 general obligation bonds would save taxpayers up to $800,000, according to figures released by the school district.
This would mean an increase of only $2.24 a year for a home worth $100,000; $15.24 for a home worth $150,000; $28.92 for a home worth $200,000; $54.60 for a home worth $300,000; and $80.78 for a home worth $400,000. 
Passing the leeway tax rate would mean new rates would commence with November’s tax notices and apply to the school district’s 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.
With that money, student instruction program funds can be replenished, class sizes can be maintained, professional development training opportunities can improve and the district’s bond rating would improve.  Long-term, district officials hope the voted leeway can provide funds to reduce class sizes, provide remediation to students failing core courses, enhance student instruction, improve technology service and infrastructure, protect electives and solidify contingency funds for emergencies.
The board would like to bring district spending per student up to state averages.  Currently, Morgan spends $6,256 per student, ranking 36th out of 41 districts in the state.  The state average is $6,482.
Morgan district officials are seeing the truth in a statement made by Senator Lyle Hillyard in 2012: “You’re going to have to find a different way of doing business in schools.”
The voted leeway is one option the district has.  Other options include further cuts to student instruction, depleting emergency contingency funds, increasing board local levy to maximum levels and gaining increased funding from the state.  
The district said city and county government officials can help by promoting economic development, providing incentives for new business and encouraging the construction of secondary residences.  Residents can help by shopping local.
District officials say the voted leeway is the best long-term solution to replace short-term, stop-gap measures.