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District 54 residents could pay less in taxes

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 2:00 a.m. CST

MORRIS – Property owners living in Morris Elementary School District 54 could pay less in taxes to the district in the upcoming tax year.

The proposed tax rate for levy 2013 – which is for school year 2014-15 – is $3.23 for every $100 of property owned.

This is a slight decrease compared to the tax rate for academic year 2013-14, which was $3.03 per $100 of property owned.

Although the requested tax rate is 3.23 percent, the district is expecting that to be closer to 3.37 percent because of lower home values.

Tax rates are based on the total equalized assessed value, or EAV, of all the property owned in the taxing district. When EAV decreases, tax rates will typically increase.

“Our EAV went down, but we still need the same amount of money to run the building, so our tax rate has to go up to generate that amount of money,” said Teri Shaw, District 54 superintendent and business director.

Shaw said although the rate may go up in levy 2013, taxpayers could pay less to District 54 because their property value has decreased.

“A $200,000 home could be worth $190,000 this year,” Shaw said.

The expected total EAV for levy 2013 is $202,799,30, which is down from $213,472,947, the actual total EAV for levy 2012.

The estimated total EAV for the upcoming tax year is based on information received from the Grundy County Assessor on Nov. 5. Those figures are subject to change over the coming months and could therefore alter the tax rate.

District 54 approved a tentative levy for the 2014-15 academic year 6-0 during Monday night’s board of education meeting. Board member Dave Obrochta was absent for the vote.

The district is requesting to levy $7,088,257 in funds, but expects to receive $6,854,504. District 54 was extended $7,055,878 in levy year 2012 – which was for the current 2012-13 school year.

“The goal is keep the teachers in front of the students,” said Scot Hastings, school board president and finance committee chairman. “We have worked really hard to save money in administration and other areas to keep money in the education fund.”

Shaw said the district requests more money than it expects to get to ensure it maximizes the amount of money it is eligible to receive.

Eighty percent of the tax burden in District 54 falls on homeowners, with 14 percent falling on commercial owners, 4 percent on industrial owners and 3 percent on farm owners.

“One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced financially the last few year is Collins closing,” Hastings said. “When Collins closed, the burden went to the taxpayers.”

Before Collins Generating Station left the district in 2003, industrial owners carried 58 percent of the tax burden in District 54.

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