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School board to discuss tax increase

Article Date: 
27 June, 2014 (All day)

The Morgan County School Board will meet Monday, June 30, to discuss a possible tax increase.  The budget hearing reviewing both the fiscal year 2014 final budget and the proposed 2015 tentative budget is scheduled for 7 a.m. in the district board room, 240 E. Young Street.
The state is expected to drop the tax levy amount, but some district officials would like to keep the levy at its current higher level.  In order to maintain the higher level, the district must hold the public hearing.
The net effect would be zero for Morgan taxpayers, unless their home or business is appraised at a higher value than it was at last year, “not because of the certified rate the school district is charging,” said D’Lynn Poll, district business administrator.
Maintaining the current rate means keeping the basic levy at state projections and increasing the board local levy and capital rate “a little bit,” Poll said.  
Considering a home valued at $200,000, “if we don’t do anything, because of additional property values, assuming the same evaluation as last year, property taxes would go down $50,” said Boardmember Mark Farmer.  “If we have them do the same amount of taxes as last year, it stays the same.  Officially, we are raising it from what the state sets, if we choose to.”
The difference would be $330,000, Farmer said. 
“We want to just collect what we collected last year,” Poll said.
Recent legislative changes mandate that many different levies are combined into the board local levy with a set limit, or ceiling.  Prior, many of the levies could be adjusted separately and didn’t have ceilings on them.  
“It is a dilemma the way they have done levies now,” Poll said.
While the state sets the same rate for every county, the amount of money each county brings in varies depending on the assessed valuation of homes and businesses in that county.  
 “Maintaining the levy allows us to take advantage of the growth the county is experiencing, then we could generate money for capital projects,” Poll said.
An increase in the capital rate would go to pay for a $125,000 new school bus, $50,000 for technology upgrades, and an $80,000 mechanical systems update, Poll said.
The district’s debt levy will be lowering because this year, the district paid off the bond used to fund construction of Morgan Middle School.  The bond for renovating Morgan High School is set to be paid off in 2018 while the bond used to fund construction of Mountain Green Elementary School is slated for a 2026 payoff, Poll said.
This year also saw the addition of a new school bus.  Poll added $60,000 to the fund that will be used to repair the middle school roof following damage from a hail storm.
“We are basically spending what we are collecting in property taxes,” Poll said.