Local

District 46 approves tentative tax levy

Prairie Grove School District 46 board member Anna Olas and Chief School Business Official Kevin Werner attend a special meeting Aug. 6, 2018, in Prairie Grove.
Prairie Grove School District 46 board member Anna Olas and Chief School Business Official Kevin Werner attend a special meeting Aug. 6, 2018, in Prairie Grove.

The Prairie Grove School District 46 Board approved its tentative tax levy request of $11,118,00 at its last meeting, making for a 1.9% increase from last year’s levy.

During the meeting, board members were presented with two options for extending the levy – a standard one, where the tax would be levied to the full Consumer Price Index plus estimated new property and a “balloon” levy, and an alternative, where they would levy of only half of the Consumer Price Index plus new property.

Board members decided to go with the alternative.

Chief school business official Kevin Werner said this new calculation for the alternative option is based on new property growth that’s being seen in the district. This growth is at the “highest point” the district has seen in the past decade, Werner said.

“What administrators wanted to do was create an option that provided permanent tax relief to current property owners, while still ensuring that the district is financially responsible,” he said.

By levying to only half of the CPI, existing property owners would have less than a 1% increase in their taxes and the district would still capture all the new property growth, resulting in the 1.9 levy, which is the CPI for this past year, Werner said.

Werner said the “standard” option has been used by the district since 2013. By levying to the full CPI, the extension would have been $11,455,000, or a 4.98% increase over last year’s levy.

The District 46 administration thinks both options are fiscally responsible, Werner said, adding that the main difference is with the standard option, they maximize future revenues that could be used for things such as capital improvements, and it provides the “balloon protection” in case new property values change from now until the end of the year.

District 46 Board President Khushali Shah said she liked the half-CPI option that was presented.

“In our last special meeting, we discussed [that] we’re not looking to build a whole new building anytime soon,” Shah said. “So if we’re not looking to be collecting money for all of that anytime soon, [with] soon being in the next 10-plus years,then maybe we should be looking at doing something for our taxpayers.”

The amount of taxes that would be extended for fiscal 2019 for debt service is $612,538. At its Dec.10 meeting the board will consider a resolution allowing for the abatement of taxes for this amount.

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