Voters in the Meridian School District will be asked to approve a replacement maintenance and operations levy on Feb. 14.
If it gets the OK, the four-year measure would bring in $3.7 million to a little over $4 million a year from 2013 through 2016.
The levy, which helps pay for the cost of education in the district, would replace the levy that expires at the end of 2012 and make up about 25 percent of the school district’s operating budget.
The estimated tax rate would be $3.82 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value in 2013.
That means a person with a home assessed at $200,000 would pay $764 in school property taxes in 2013.
If approved, the new levy tax rate is expected to be about 81 cents more per $1,000 than the projected tax rate for 2012.
So the owner of a $200,000 home would pay about $13.50 more a month in property taxes in 2013 than 2012.
Superintendent Tim Yeomans said the district is asking for additional dollars — about $900,000 more in 2013 — out of fear that the state will cut all or part of levy equalization funding, which helps property-poor districts keep property taxes from being too high for their residents
Meridian receives about $850,000 a year in levy equalization funding, Yeomans said, adding that the school district can’t wait until March or April on the state’s decision.
“We have to plan on them removing all of it,” Yeomans said.
Property owners also pay about $1 per $1,000 of assessed value for a bond voters approved in February 2010 to renovate aging Meridian High School and Irene Reither Primary School.
In discussions of the replacement levy, Yeomans stressed that school officials have been careful in their spending.
“We are razor thin in how we staff our classrooms, meaning we’re efficient,” he said. “I want to make sure that people know that we’re not doing anything frivolous.”
Yeomans noted that the district has switched over to using Google for many of its computer applications, saving more than $35,000 a year over the last four years.
Other projects have included replacing lighting in one of its elementary schools, saving $300 to $350 a month in electricity costs, and upgrading to fuel-efficient buses — without going to taxpayers for extra money.
“Great communities have great schools,” Yeomans said. “In the most challenging times, I want people to know that when we ask for their tax dollars, that we are being the best stewards possible of their money.”
When voters approve a levy, they are approving the maximum amount of money a district can collect in property taxes from residents. The tax rate may fluctuate, but the bottom-line amount the district receives can’t be above what voters approve.
Here’s a quick look at the estimated tax rates property owners in Meridian School District would pay if voters on Feb. 14 approve a replacement levy for maintenance and operations.
- 2013: $3.82 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value.
- 2014: $3.92.
- 2015: $4.02.
- 2016: $4.13.