Meridian CUSD 223 leaders hope a property tax increase bring in $1.25 million to help solve their $2 million deficit in the 2012-2013 school year, during fiscal year 2013. Community members have concerns and questions before they even consider approving this plan.
Before Tuesday night's meeting, one major question from parents and other taxpayers was 'How does this increase translate into an actual dollar amount?' School board members reveal that raising the tax rate from what it is now, 2.78%, to 3.85%, means each individual paying property taxes will pay $92.69 more for every $1,000 spent in property taxes. For example, an individual paying $10,000 will, if the referendum is passed, pay around $930 dollars more.
3.85% is the maximum tax rate school leaders can increase to, but they're not enforcing the maximum levy yet. Board members say there is a chance that in the future, school leaders could levy more from that rate. The maximum they can ask for is just under $140 more for every $1,000 spent in property taxes.
If the referendum doesn't pass, school leaders will rely heavily on their cash reserve fund and have to make major cuts. Even if voters approve the $1.25 million tax levy, cuts will have to come. Board members assure the last resort is to eliminate programs. Right now, they're trying to figure out how to get around that while still taking money out of the budget. Stillman Valley resident Carol Hoekstra is worried how well leaders are spreading the word about the referendum. She'd like to see a more proactive effort. After having her children grow up and graduate in the district, Hoekstra says paying more in taxes is a good investment.
"It will affect us but it's something worthwhile." -she says.
The next public hearing is February 7th. There's one more scheduled after that but board president Bruce Larson says they'll add more if needed. If you missed Tuesday night's meeting, click here for the informational PowerPoint.
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