Fact Check No. 6: Tax impact of school-related ballot measures
Editor’s note: This story was edited to change assessed value to market value under the “How much will my education taxes go up if all three ballot measures pass?”
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This is the sixth installment in Steamboat Pilot & Today’s “Fact Check” series on key topics related to the Referendums 4A, 4B and 4C — Steamboat Springs School Board’s proposed $79.5 million bond and associated operational mill levy, as well as a tax increase for teacher and staff salary increases.
How much will my education taxes go up if all three ballot measures pass?
- For residential property owners, per $500,000 of market value: $17.01 per month.
- For commercial properties, per $500,000 of market value: $70.78 per month.
- The overall net increase in mills is 5.858: from 21.040 in fiscal year 2019 mills to 26.898 in fiscal year 2020.
But if I add up the individual tax impacts (see graphic below), it doesn’t equal $17 or $70 per month?
That’s because your calculations don’t take into account reductions. There are three areas causing reductions as compared to the previous year:
- Assessed property value went up (thus giving the district more money for old debts).
- The district has accumulated some interest income.
- The state is now funding half-day kindergarten, taking the cost off of local districts.
When do the taxes expire? And does the dollar amount certified and collected ever change?
4A (teacher and staff salary increase) never expires. And it will increase based on the Denver-Boulder-Greeley TABOR CPI — Consumer Price Index — which estimates increases including inflation and cost of living. The annual dollar amount of taxes collected starts at $1.2 million, with 2.5% growth estimated each year thereafter. In 2049, it is estimated at $2,455,689.
4B (operational costs) never expires. It does not change. The dollar amount certified and collected will remain at $2.8 million every year. The tax will not be collected until it is needed.
4C (bond for new school and priority projects) will expire in 20 years. The dollar amount certified and collected will vary every year based on the bond schedule. “We will only certify what we need to collect,” Steamboat Springs School District Finance Director Mark Rydberg said. The taxes assessed every year related are based on fiscal year’s principal and interest payments. The ballot language states that taxes will increase “no more than $8.3 million annually,” but that does not mean $8.3 million will be collected each year. Once paid off, the total bond amount includes $79.5 million in principal and $57.4 million in interest, totaling $136,939,000.
The ballot language for 4A and 4B mentions the general fund. Can these taxes be used for something else?
The ballot language adheres to TABOR law, but, in regards to 4A, “There is no possible way that $1.2 million will be spent on anything other than teacher and staff wages and benefits,” said Rydberg.
For 4B, the operational costs, those costs are primarily (80% to 90%) applied to the new pre-K to eighth grade school, according to Rydberg. However they also apply districtwide. With the priority projects, such as the 9,000-square-foot addition to the high school, there are increased costs, such as heating and lighting, that 4B will also cover.
What older educational taxes am I still paying?
1. The seven-year, $12.9 million bond passed in 2017 for capital construction and deferred maintenance expires in 2024.
2. The 20-year, $29.7 million bond passed in 2006 for the construction of Soda Creek Elementary School and Strawberry Park Elementary renovations expires in 2026.
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