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School levy drops: District 206 to collect 5 percent less in taxes next year

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News Alexandria, 56308
Echo Press
(320) 763-3258 customer support
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

The good news is that the proposed tax levy for Alexandria School District 206 is going down.

The proposed local levy is $7.7 million - a decrease of about 5 percent over last year's local levy, which was $8.1 million.

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The bad news, however, is that the decrease doesn't necessarily mean residents' taxes are going down, said Tom Wieczorek, District 206 business manager.

"Some people will still see increases," said Wieczorek at the district's regular board meeting Monday night. He explained that seasonal and recreation properties owners could see big increases due to the elimination of limited market value.

Beginning with the 2009 assessment for taxes payable in 2010, all property that had a reduced taxable value as a result of the limited market value law will be valued at its full estimated market value due to a phase-out enacted by the state Legislature.

Owners with property that have had a limited market value may see their tax bill increase, some dramatically, because their value exclusion has expired, resulting in a growth of their share of taxable value at a time when market values seem to be declining.

Wieczorek explained that as for the school district's levy, there are some reasons for the decrease. The first is that the district is no longer leasing the Spirit building on Aga Drive, which housed the district offices, Community Education and Early Childhood Family Education.

Additional reasons include that the district is not levying as much for health and safety, although it still has projects in that department, and there is excess in debt services.

All levy dollars, explained Wieczorek, are set by the state - unless they are voter approved. The state determines the formulas used to set the levy.

Information presented in the past regarding the district's levy stated that the basic school finance equation is local levy plus state aid should equal revenue.

There are several points to keep in mind when it comes to the district's levy, including:

•Revenue formulas are set by the state Legislature except for voter-approved referendums.

•The local levy and state aid mix are set by the state Legislature.

•An increase in local taxes does not guarantee an increase in revenues for the school district.

In addition, there are seven key steps in the levy process, which include:

•The Douglas/Pope County assessors determine the estimated market value for each parcel of property in the Alexandria School District.

•The state Legislature sets the formulas for tax capacity and market value. The formulas determine how much of the tax burden will fall on different types of property.

•The Douglas/Pope County auditors calculate the tax capacity and market value for each parcel of property in the school district, as well as the total tax capacity for the school district.

•State legislators set the formulas, which determine the maximum amounts of taxes the school district may levy in each category.

•The Department of Education calculates detailed levy limits for the school district, which are based on the formulas approved by the Legislature. The limits tell the school district the exact amounts that may be levied in each category.

•The final levy cannot be greater than the preliminary levy, except for the amounts approved by the voters or changes made by the Department of Education.

•The Douglas/Pope County auditors divide the final levy by the tax capacity to determine the tax rate needed to raise the approved levy amount. Multiplying the tax rate by each parcel's tax capacity and market value will determine the Alexandria school district's tax.

Watch for more school board news in next Wednesday's, December 30, issue of the Echo Press.

A LOOK BACK

Levy amounts set by School District 206:

1995-96 - $9.6 million

1996-97 - $10.7 million, 11.5 percent increase.

1997-98 - $9.9 million, 7.3 percent decrease.

1998-99 - $9.5 million, 3.6 percent decrease.

1999-00 - $10.7 million, 11.7 percent increase.

2000-01 - $10.6 million, .09 percent decrease.

2001-02 - $2.7 million, 74.8 percent decrease.

2002-03 - $2.9 million, 7.9 percent increase.

2003-04 - $3.2 million, 9.3 percent increase.

2004-05 - $4.7 million, 49.7 percent increase.

2005-06 - $5.8 million, 23.1 percent increase.

2006-07 - $6.6 million, 14.1 percent increase.

2007-08 - $7.2 million, 8.12 percent increase.

2008-09 - $8.1 million, 13.2 percent increase.

2009-10 - $7.7 million, 5.08 percent decrease.

(The big decrease in 2001 occurred when Governor Jesse Ventura transferred more of the funding responsibility to the state instead of the counties.)

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