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Whitnall taxes dip even lower

Board will respond to lower levy limits with more cuts

Oct. 25, 2011

Greenfield - Whitnall School District taxpayers will get a bigger break on their school taxes for the 2011-12 school year than was apparent at the Sept. 26 annual meeting.

At that time, Whitnall officials expected a property tax levy drop for school purposes of 5.31 percent, or $876,643. But because state levy limits came in lower than expected, the actual drop will be 5.8 percent or $957,562.

The School Board officially set the levy on Monday of $15,542,825.

Officials estimate that theoretically the owner of a home worth $200,000 will see school taxes go down $168 for 2012. But that is based on theoretical equalized value, not assessed value, which is what people actually pay. If the state revenue limit capping the amount the schools can levy had not gone down, the savings would have been a theoretical $110.

While that's good news for taxpayers, it also means the district will have to cut more - about $81,000 - from its budget to rebalance it.

The board considered other options before making that decision, however.

Board members briefly considered keeping the levy at the higher level. The district could have legally done that by putting the extra $81,000 into the separate community services fund, which levy limits do not control.

School Board member T.J. Anderson suggested that idea was worth considering, given that the district could experience cost overruns in a massive project to revamp the athletic fields. In years past, he said, new facilities have often had higher lighting costs, for example.

Because the athletic facilities are tied into community services, the money might rightfully be used for utilities, freeing up funds that could be used in classrooms, Anderson said.

Fellow board member Bernard Shaw said he might have supported the idea if there was more information and more time to think about it.

In the end, both Anderson and Shaw joined in the vote to approve the lower levy.

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