Saturday, August 17, 2013

Crete Faces 17% School Levy Hike; Dorchester Has Lowest Levy In County


There is a little bit of controversy next door in Crete.

The Crete Public School Board has proposed a $33 million bond referendum, set for a mail-in vote ending Sept. 10.  The $33 million in new spending would fund what is being billed as Crete Schools "most comprehensive overhaul" in district history.

Crete School's proposed $33 million loan from the taxpayers makes Dorchester's $4 million bonded project back in 2007-08 -- for the new DPS K-12 school building -- look like a bargain.  Consider that farmers along with middle-class and upper-class homeowners will pay the bulk of the Crete district's increase in spending.  But as was the case for Dorchester in 2007, local voters will decide what is the best course is for their school and their wallets.

A recent story in The Crete News reported that if the $33 million bond measure is passed, property owners residing in the Crete school district will see their levy increase from 1.15% to 1.34% (about 17%).

The Crete News story also compares levy rates of surrounding schools, including Wilber and Friend.  But the story fails to use Dorchester's levy rate in the comparison.  We don't know if this was intentional, but we do find it a little odd since Dorchester Public School district offers the lowest levy rate in the county.  (Several experts say Dorchester's levy rate is commendable considering the quality of education, brand new facilities, top-notch faculty and small class sizes that Dorchester offers.)

Here are the current school district levy rates in Saline County and nearby districts:

CRETE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 1.1531% (which would go to 1.34% if the Sept. 10 bond passes)
DORCHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 1.1171%
FRIEND PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 1.2856%
WILBER-CLATONIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 1.1246%
MILFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 1.0494%
MERIDIAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 1.1201%
EXETER-MILLIGAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 0.9678%
   
Under 1998 state law, all political subdivisions with authority to levy a property tax must operate under levy limits.  For every $100 of taxable value on a property, school districts are limited to a $1.05 levy.  However, districts are excluded from this limitation for bonded indebtedness for projects approved by the voters.   

School districts are also limited in their growth in general fund expenditures to no more than a rate between 2.5% and 4.5%, based on location. Exceptions to this rule apply.

4 comments:

  1. I want to say thanks to the Dorchester school board members for Dorchester having the lowest levy in the county. I know our school isn't get much if any school aid so its good to see the school is being fiscally responsible. Its a little shocking to see how much more Friend is paying and what Crete might be paying.

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  2. It's funny. Whenever there's positive news about Dorchester, there aren't many comments on this blog. It makes me suspicious. Maybe there are a lot of out-of-towners commenting on this blog or the people that do comment just don't like Dorchester.

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  3. PUBLIC CITIZEN NO. 1August 19, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    I'm not from Crete, so maybe I shouldn't be sticking my nose in their business. HOWEVER ... some food for thought:

    1.) If the ballots are by mail-in only, how can you be sure the person who's voting is really who he/she claims to be? (I'm told be a respected business man in Crete that as many as 25-35% of Hispanic workers in Crete are illegals.)

    2.) Is it fair for Crete district residents to pay for the education of the children of Farmland/Smithfield workers, when all of Farmland's property tax dollars go to Wilber-Clatonia (which has a pretty high levy)?

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  4. Ouch! Poor friend and wilber taxpayers. (I own ground in the friend district) Where's the accountability? Are they getting a better education that we don't know about.

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