The NBAPS School Board’s proposed property tax levy, approved Thursday, is 13 percent higher than last year’s final levy, but Director of Finance and Personnel Randi Johnson said the preliminary amount, compared to other past years, isn’t a substantial increase.
The board approved the preliminary levy 4-1 with Board Member Randy Westby voting no.
Johnson explained to the board that last year was an “aberration” when it came to property taxes collected.
“Last year, your levy dropped 8.5 percent over what it had been the past several years,” she explained to the board. “That’s important to recognize. There was a big difference last year. Some of that was due to that OPEB (other post employment benefits) levy that we talked about, and it was also because of other adjustments.”
When the proposed property tax levy is compared to the 2011 final levy, it’s an increase of only 3.4 percent.
Johnson also explained that the driving factor for the increase is the School Board’s new authority to levy an additional $300 per pupil unit without an election and the ability to secure an additional $212 per pupil unit through the location equity index. The state Legislature approved both measures this past session in an effort to address some of the inequity in the state school funding formula.
Johnson noted the board could decrease the amount of the proposed levy before it is certified to the county auditor in December, but it cannot increase the levy.
Westby asked Johnson if the board could choose to levy only part of the location equity index, and she explained that is a possibility, but there is an additional ramification for that action.
“With any levy, you can under levy, but you never get it back. … You also lose a proportionate amount of state aid,” she said.
Westby then expressed his displeasure with the changes to the funding formula.
“I have a great concern about increasing 13 percent,” he said. “I’m not a fan of this legislation.”