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Tax impact of District 833 voter-approved levy diminishes

A School District 833 levy hike voters approved last month will cost them significantly less than predicted next year.

School officials said growth in south Washington County property values and an expanded tax base means individual homeowners will see a smaller increase in the school portion of their property taxes next year.

South Washington County Schools Finance Director Aaron Bushberger said the district used a conservative estimate of no change in the average property value when it estimated the impact of the voter-approved operating levy. In the past two years, property values dropped by an average of 4 percent and 6 percent.

But Washington County data compiled after the election showed that average property values are increasing 4 percent, and there is an expanded tax base in the school district due to housing growth, Bushberger said. That spreads the tax burden and lowers the school portion of individual tax bills.

“That’s wonderful the way it turned out but it makes me a little uncomfortable too,” Superintendent Keith Jacobus said, because of how the impact could change in the future.

A Woodbury home valued at $250,000 will see a school property tax increase of $22 next year. The estimate used by the district during the levy campaign was $61.

A house worth $100,000 will see school taxes increase $13, when the earlier estimate was $24. There was a similar percentage change for higher-valued properties. A $400,000 home will see a $31 school tax increase. The earlier estimate was $98.

Figures only were available for Woodbury properties, though property taxpayers in other communities within District 833 also can expect smaller increases.

The change was discussed Dec. 5 as the South Washington County School Board approved the district’s 2014 property tax levy. The district will levy $55.94 million next year, up 3.5 percent from the $54.06 million levy in 2013. The total includes $28.56 million for the general fund.

The local property tax levy comprises only about 16 percent of total general fund spending. State aid makes up about 80 percent of the $173 million general fund.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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