The Waterloo School Board on Nov. 19 approved a property tax levy increase following a public hearing.
When a school district makes a tax levy, it sets or requests a specific dollar amount to be collected on its behalf by county officials. Whether a district receives all of the dollars it requests is directly related to the total equalized assessed valuation of the district.
The corporate and special purpose property taxes to be levied for 2012 are $15,977,726, reflecting an 11.51 percent increase over the tax extension for 2011.
Waterloo school superintendent Jim Helton explained, however, that the actual increase will be somewhat lower after the county clerk realizes the actual extensions.
“It has been a guessing game regarding the EAV multiplier over the past several years,” he said.
Helton said the school district anticipates the EAV will be less than the levy, and will finalize a tax rate at $4.15, which is very similar to the past five years.
“In our case, the higher the EAV, the lower the school tax rate,” he said. “The Board of Education has done a great job of planning since the 2006 referendums.”
The school tax rate’s average has been $4.10, he explained, while other area districts have struggled to maintain their rate due to declining EAV.
According to 2012 School Report Card data, the average operating expenditure for school districts was $11,664 per pupil.
“In Waterloo, we spent $8,827,” Helton offered.
Over the past several years, the state has either short-changed or delayed school funding dollars, forcing school districts to rely more and more on local dollars.
Helton said that with his district’s educational fund, the state only provides 19 percent of its budget, and federal provides four percent.
“Local taxpayers provide 77 percent of the education dollars,” he said.
The total property taxes extended or abated for 2011 were $16,979,834. The total property taxes to be levied for 2012 are $18,637,641, representing a 9.76 percent increase over the previous year.
Also at its Nov. 19 meeting, the school board approved a resolution to refinance outstanding 2007 and 2008 bonds.
Since the district placed them on five-year calls, Helton explained, the bonds can be “called” to refinance for lower rates — with an average drop from 4.5 percent to 2.5 percent. The term of the bonds remains the same, but the district projects lowering the amount of interest it is paying by more than $1.1 million over the remaining nine years.
“It only reduces the levy impact by .02, but does allow the district to pay more principal and save money for the taxpayers,” Helton said.