Lawrence school district administrators Monday floated a scenario for a 5 mill property tax increase, saying projections of lower property values will hit the district with a “double whammy.”
Board members will debate where to set the district’s property tax level for 2010-2011 in coming weeks, and they could opt to levy less than the 5 mill increase.
Administrators said an estimated 1 percent decrease in property valuation due to the recession means a flat mill levy will raise less funds than the previous year.
“Unfortunately, that’s not something Lawrence has seen in a lot of years,” said Kathy Johnson, the district’s division director of finance. “These last few years have been difficult because the valuation has declined or been very flat.”
A mill is $1 in property tax for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
Johnson said projected valuation decreases are also coming at a bad time for another reason. The district is still using its bond and interest levy to pay off its 2005 bond issue that funded secondary school and technology improvements.
Typically the schedules for payments are made projecting valuation increases in future years.
According to Monday’s scenario, a 5.3 mill increase coupled with a 1 percent decline in valuation would increase property taxes by $91.82, to $1,044 a year, on a $150,000 home in the district.
But that scenario assumes board members opt for a 2 mill increase on the district’s capital outlay levy for building projects. President Scott Morgan said the board would likely see if it could adjust that “to modify the pain.”
Because of decreased state funding, board members already have made $4.6 million in cuts for next year.
“We’re treading in place, and we’re having to raise taxes,” Morgan said. “That’s not a great recipe.”