District 26 prepares annual levy adoption

CARY – School District 26 plans to ask for $20.2 million in property taxes, outside of bond payments, next year. The amount is 4.97 percent higher than the $19.2 million it received this year.

District officials, however, expect to receive only 3.06 percent more than this year, or about an additional $587,000.

The 3.06 percent accounts for a little bit of new growth the district expects.

The levy adoption is scheduled to be voted on next month.

The school district is limited by the state’s tax cap law on how much it can receive over the previous year’s property tax levy. Districts can extend their levy by 4.99 percent or the increase of the consumer price index, whichever is less.

The CPI this year is 3 percent.

Districts generally ask for more than they expect to receive so they can capture any new property growth during the year.

“Authorizing an increase a little bit above what we anticipate to receive will put us in a situation to allow the district to account for those unforeseen circumstances, for those factors we may not know,” District 26 Director of Finance and Operations T. Ferrier said.

Districts have to estimate their annual levies because they won’t know where property values will be set until the spring.

“Because we don’t know the equalized assessed valuation, as well as the new property, it’s very difficult to maintain our rate we promised in the referendum until we get closer to knowing those figures,” Ferrier said.

Ferrier said she wasn’t sure how much more the average property owner would pay to the district, because final property values won’t be set until the spring.

The bond and interest fund rate is expected to be determined in January or February.

“We will not know what that will do to the average homeowner until we have [the equalized assessed valuation numbers],” Ferrier said. “Because if your house values all go up in one year, and it’s spread out over everyone, then the rates change. Again, you can’t determine that until you know house values.”

The levy was put together with a commitment to maintain a balanced budget. District officials also expect to lose $825,000 in general state aid next year.

“We’ve run into difficulty every year because we have that decreasing financial support from the state,” Ferrier said. “That is causing us to continue to be crippled in our efforts to maintain a balanced budget because we lose a significant portion of revenue from the state from year to year.”

Board member Scott Coffey said that if assessments remained the same for everyone, then the share of a resident’s tax bill that goes to the district would increase by 3 percent.

However, there is a state equalizer that also could be factored in, Ferrier said.

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