By Ken Ross, Managing Editor
The property tax for the Cherokee School District will drop by $1.77 per $1,000 assessed valuation for the next fiscal year, primarily as a result of the countywide one cent local option sales tax for schools.
The school board met in special session at noon on Wednesday of last week to approve the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The district had designated all of the revenue from its portion of the tax for property tax relief.
The rate for the current fiscal year is $17.81693 and this will go down to $16.04681. This breaks down to $12.16535 for the operating fund levy, $1.2584 for the management levy, $0.83 for the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and $1.793059 for debt service levy. Other local tax revenue for the district comes from a 4 percent surtax on Iowa income tax and from the county-wide one cent sales tax for schools. These other local sources will remain unchanged next year as far as rate but the actual revenue generated fluctuates. The budget amount is just an estimate.
State tax also supports schools in amounts that vary from district to district depending on the property valuation per student in the district, a factor that also affects the property tax rate, based on the state set per pupil funding formula. To a lesser extent, federal taxes help support schools through payment for specific programs.
The reduction in property tax for the upcoming fiscal year primarily results through application of sales tax revenue to debt service. The current debt service levy is $3.03963. There is also about a 30 cent reduction in the operating fund levy. The loss of enrollment for this year was less than for the previous year. Combined with a 4 percent increas in the per pupil funding, the district needs to levy less to achieve the funding guarantee that allows school districts with declining enrollment to recover part of the lost operating fund revenue.
It was noted that the school board has control of 3.8 percent of the funding sources, with voter approved levies making up 11.1 percent and the remaining 85 percent controlled by the state.
Funding sources are listed as state aid - 48.3 percent, property tax - 22.2 percent, carryover (reserves) - 12.5 percent, income surtax - 1.5 percent and all other sources - 15.5 percent. Since the carryover is expected to remain stable, taking that out of the mix gives a more accurate reflection of funding for actual spending. This makes the state aid portion 55.2 percent of funding for expenditures and the property tax 25.3 percent.