News

Highland tax rate on the decline

GTNS photo by David Hotle

Highland School Board president Nate Robinson, superintendent Ken Crawford, and school board member Lois Schneider examine the issues the school board discussed during Tuesday’s regular meeting.
GTNS photo by David Hotle Highland School Board president Nate Robinson, superintendent Ken Crawford, and school board member Lois Schneider examine the issues the school board discussed during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

RIVERSIDE — Taxpayers in the Highland School District will see a drop in the tax rate from the schools this year as increases in valuation in the district are allowing the tax rate to drop.

The proposed district budget for the fiscal year between July 1 and June 30, 2020,which was presented at the regular school board meeting Tuesday night, March 11, shows the tax levy rate will be $13.09 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. This is a decline from this year’s tax rate of $13.19. Business manager Sue Rich told the board the final numbers will be given during the April 8 regular meeting. She did not foresee any changes to the initial numbers. A public hearing also will be held during that meeting before final adoption is voted on. The budget has to be submitted to the Washington County Auditor’s office by April 15.

“Property values are continuing to go up, which is good,” she explained.

Declining tax rates doesn’t necessarily mean taxpayers will see a decline in the amount of money they pay in taxes. Taxes are based on the assessed valuation of the property.

According to the budget, the district plans to levy $4,207,152 in utility replacement and property tax money. This does not include revenues from a $2.7 million bond issue voters will decide in August, which wil be included in next year’s budget if it is approved.

During a previous interview with district consultant Mike Jorgensen, it was reported four years ago, the district’s tax askings hit a peak at $16 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. He said because of new construction in the district and the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort’s tax incentive program ending this year, district property values are climbing.

The budget will be published in local newspapers before the budget meeting for public comment.

The board also examined the annual audit report for the district. In the year that ended June 30, 2018, the district revenues totaled $10,495,236, a 1 percent decrease over the prior year. The revenues included $5,263,777 of local taxes; $1,145,987 of charges for servi e; $1,314,186 in operating grants; $2,586,732 of unrestricted state grants; $86,325 in contributions and donations; $39,272 in unrestricted interest; and $58,957 in general revenues.

District expenses were $10,020,930, also a 1 percent decrease over the previous year. Of that, $5,923,347 went for instruction; $2,805,791 for support services; $302,143 for non-instructional programs; and $989,649 for other expenses.

The audit was compiled by Kay L. Chapman, CPA PC of Muscatine. A copy of the full audit is available in the Highland district office.