Over the years, this publication has tracked property taxes and how our tax dollars are spent.
Today, we take another look at property taxes levied in Saline County, specifically by our public school boards. (Remember, property taxes are levied and collected by local government -- not the state or federal government.)
In 2015, the latest year available, Saline County's taxing entities collected more than $33.4 million dollars in property tax revenue. School districts took nearly 64% of that amount -- or $21.1 million.
Here's where your property tax dollars go if you live in Saline County, by percentage:
* Your school district: 64%
* County government: 20%
* Your city: 7%
* Your community college district: 5%
* Misc. (NRD's, ESU's, etc.): Remaining 4%
Since we now know that almost 64% of our property tax dollars go to pay for our local school districts, how do area schools compare when it come to tax rates?
Here's a look at the rates of area schools. (Generally speaking, these tax rates tell us about the financial condition of each school district and their board members willingness to tax and spend. Remember, only voters in a particular school district can hold a school board accountable for its taxing and spending decisions.)
School District 2015 Tax Rate
CRETE $1.29 for every $100 of valuation (includes bonds of $0.07 and $0.16)
FRIEND $1.08 (includes bond of $0.14)
MILFORD $0.99 (includes bond of $0.04)
WILBER-CLATONIA $0.91 (includes bonds of $0.01 and $0.08)
DORCHESTER $0.70 (includes bond of $0.08)
What does this mean in real life?
- CRETE: If you have a $150,000 residence or commercial building in the Crete School District, you're paying $1,935 -- and that's just the school portion of your property tax bill. Add the remaining liabilities and you'll own more than $3,020 on your $150,000 property in the Crete School District.
- FRIEND: Move that same $150,000 property to the Friend School District, you'll pay $1,620 for the school portion of your bill, and more than $2,530 overall.
- WILBER: That $150,000 property in the Wilber-Clatonia School District means you'll pay $1,365 for the school portion, while you dish out roughly $2,130 overall.
- DORCHESTER: That $150,000 property in the Dorchester School District means your bill will come down to $1,050 for the school portion, and roughly $1,640 overall.
Now here's the real kicker.
Over a decade of property tax payments -- based on 2015 figures -- your total property tax bill for that $150,000 property in the Crete district would be $30,200.
In the Friend district, your total would $25,300.
In the the Wilber-Clatonia district, $21,300.
And in the Dorchester district, $16,400 -- or about $14,000 less than you would have paid in the Crete district, or $9,000 less than the Friend district, or $5,000 less than the Wilber-Clatonia district.
Why the big difference?
No matter what the elites in Omaha and Lincoln -- and the state Legislature -- say, smaller schools really are more economical in most cases. Crete is Class B and Wilber is C-1.
Moreover, Dorchester school board members and district voters made a good call in 2007 when they chose build a new school at a time of lower costs. School boards that chose to expand more recently -- and voters who gave them the OK -- have paid a high price.