Officials review records on county school tax plans

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 14, 2000

Following questions about the size of a proposed tax increasefor Lincoln County School District operations, county officials arereviewing property value records and computer files to verifytotals or see if a glitch exists.

Tax Assessor-Collector Nancy Jordan said computer serviceofficials were checking software and equipment and it would likelybe Monday morning before anything is known.

An area in question appears to be the value of motor vehicles inthe county school district, where totals fell from around $19million last year to $12.7 million this year.

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“That doesn’t seem right. It shouldn’t have dropped that much,”said Comptroller David Fields.

With new vehicles bought and their higher values on the taxrolls, Fields said motor vehicle value totals generally rise fromyear to year.

With the automobile value drop, the overall assessed value ofproperty fell from $54 million for fiscal year 2000 to $49.3million for fiscal year 2001, which begins Oct. 1.

Property values are used in conjunction with millage rates todetermine how much in taxes people pay each year. A lower overallproperty value would mean taxing authorities, such as boards ofsupervisors, would have to raise millage rates to offset the valuedecrease.

Jordan said property value totals were prepared this yearexactly as they were in the past. She was hoping the computerreview would turn up an explanation for the lower property valuetotals.

“I’m hoping it’s something that can be changed to make it betterfor the people,” Jordan said.

Based on the lower property values, Fields last week informedcounty supervisors of a possible 11-mill increase in the countyschool district property tax rate to fund the district’s $2.5million budget request. For school funding, taxing authorities arerequired to levy enough in taxes to collect the amountrequested.

Broken down, a little more than half of the 11-mill increasecould be attributed to the drop in property values, Fields said.The remainder would be to cover the additional $228,000 thedistrict has asked for next year.

One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed propertyvalue. Depending on homestead exemption eligibility, property isassessed at 10 or 15 percent of its real or market value.

An 11-mill increase would mean county school district taxpayerswould be paying $11 more for every $1,000 of assessed propertyvalue.

Based on last year’s overall $54 million value of county schooldistrict property, Fields said a 4.6-mill increase would be neededfor fund the district’s budget request. That would mean about $4.60more on every $1,000 of assessed property value.

City and city school district taxpayers would not be affected byan increase for county school operations. Fields indicated thelower property values’ impact on other areas would not be as great,since the countywide property value total is about three times thatof the county school district.

In questioning the tax increase amount, Lincoln CountySuperintendent of Education Perry Miller said the district was notasking for an 11-mill increase. Miller said the district was onlyasking for the taxes on new property in the district.

The county school district has a total budget of over $19million, of which $2.5 million is local funds, Miller said.

Miller said local funds represent a “pretty good investment” inthat over $9 million is returned to the local economy in terms ofpayroll alone. That does not include gas purchases, constructionand other expenditures that also help, he added.

“It’s probably the best investment in the economy of LincolnCounty,” Miller said about local funding for the schooldistrict.