Tricounty News

EV-W School Board: phased retirement for business manager, taxes

By Jean Doran Matua, Editor

The board met Monday, Dec. 3. 

As part of the consent agenda, the board approved hiring Tara Wood as a speech/language clinician (replacing Jane Hennen who retired), approving Amanda Meierhofer as a substitute teacher for Jessica Jarvis at the elementary school, accepted a $700 donation from the Eden Valley American Legion for the NHS Christmas For Kids and another from the Eden Valley Lions for $2,000 toward the same program, accepted a donation of $500 from Eden Valley Lions for Community Ed basketball jerseys, and they approved the staff seniority list.

The board approved $433,954.42 in bills paid, $43,468.59 of which was for building construction.

School enrollment is the same, with 925 students enrolled.

The high school building project is moving along well. The concrete gym floor has been poured, and will be watched for moisture content before the wood floor is installed, perhaps in mid-January for possible use in February. 

The 2013 board calendar will be approved at the next meeting (Dec. 17), but they are considering changing meetings to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, for a total of 15 meetings in the year.

To assure a smooth transition from retiring business manager Nick Thielen to the new (in January) business manager Cathy Wuertz, Thielen will continue to work up to 10 hours a week, as needed, after the transition. This will be especially helpful as construction projects are finished up, as Thielen was deeply involved in that.

Cathy Wuertz presented Truth In Taxation. (No members of the public were present to complain or make inquiries.) 

Wuertz first explained that the school budget and tax levy and collection run on a different schedule than that of cities or counties. She then described the steps involved in determining the school’s portion of property taxes:

The County Assessor determines the estimated value for each parcel of property in the county. Separately, the state legislature sets formulas for tax capacity for each type of property.

The County Auditor uses these two calculations to determine the capacity for each parcel of property and the total tax capacity for each school district.

The legislature sets formulas that determine school district levy limits, the maximum of taxes that can be levied. And the state Department of Education calculates detailed levy limits for each district, based on the legislative formulas.

At this point, the school board adopts a proposed levy based on these limits. The proposed levy comes out in September, with the final levy adopted in December. The final levy cannot exceed the preliminary levy.

The final step is when the County Auditor takes the final levy determined by board, divides it by the total tax capacity to calculate the total tax needed to be levied. That figure is multiplied by each property’s tax capacity and the result is the school tax for that property.

The proposed budget for 2012-13 shows a 4.55-percent increase in total revenues and 9.3-percent increase in expenditures. (Both increases are primarily because of the $9 million construction levy.)

Of the $8.1 million budget for 2012-13, 60.2 percent will go to wages and salaries, and 15.6 percent to employee benefits, for a total of 75.8 percent personnel expense or $6.1 million.

Contracted services and transportation take up the next-biggest chunk with 14.5 percent or $1.176 million. Utilities, building fuel, water/sewer take up another
2 percent of the budget, or an anticipated $117,000 for 2012-13.

A further breakdown of  expenditures shows 65.31 going toward instruction and pupil support, 8.11 percent to district and building administration, 3.42 percent to district support services,
6.72 to building operations and maintenance, 10.2 percent to capital items and transportation, and
6.25 percent other (property, workers comp. insurance, etc.).

Of the needed $8.2 million to run the Eden Valley-Watkins School District nbext year, only 8.02 percent will come from local property taxes, that’s $657,678. Federal aid provides 2.42 percent and other local revenue (tuition, fees, interest) provides 3.7 percent. The remaining 85.87 percent comes from state aid which in recent years has proved to be unreliable and unpredictable. It is hoped that the current legislature will make school funding a high priority.

The proposed property tax levy for the school district in 2013 is a 3.47 percent decrease from 2012. The net tax capacity for the district in 2013 is $4,833,500 (down from $4.9 million), and the tax rate is 33.75 (down from 34.98) percent.

Using an example of a home with an assessed market value of $150,000, property taxes should decrease by $18.45 without consideration of assessed market value loss. A loss of assessed market6 value on that home of $20,000 would result in a property tax decrease of $67.50 for 2013.

The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17.