Monday, April 18, 2011

Again with Additional School Mill Levy Requests

People that are signed up to vote by mail should have received their “Official” School district ballot over the weekend. Not surprisingly both the Elementary and High School districts are asking the voters to approve an additional tax levy as well as a bonus round of funding for the building reserve fund under the guise of funding for needed roof repairs at the high school.

Like usual voting for all three mill levy increases is “for the kids” and will only cost that mysterious home owner with that $100,000 home a mere $29.60 or $59.20 for those lucky enough to own a home valued at $200,000. How much are you already paying you ask? This is a break down the Corrector put together last year prior to the school election

Name:  Levies:  Percentage:  Dollar Amount:
Elementary General 116.12 15.365% $349.5212
Elementary Transportation 10.41 1.377% $31.3341
Elementary Adult Education 0.00 0.000% $0
Elementary Bus Reserve 3.67 0.486% $11.0467
Elementary Technology 7.24 0.958% $21.7924
Elementary Debt Service 1.72 0.228% $5.1772
Elementary Building Reserve 11.16 1.477% $33.5916
General School Elementary Equal. 33.00 4.366% $99.33
Elementary Retirement 28.61 3.786% $86.1161
High School General 64.05 8.475% $192.7905
High School Transportation 8.31 1.100% $25.0131
High School Bus Reserve 3.13 0.414% $9.4213
Adult Education 0.95 0.126% $2.8595
Technology 3.09 0.409% $9.3009
High School Building Reserve 9.52 1.260% $28.6552
High School Debt Service 0.90 0.119% $2.709
General School High School Equal. 22.00 2.911% $66.22
High School Retirement 13.03 1.724% $39.2203
County Transportation 5.00 0.662% $15.05

TOTAL = 341.91 mill levy which is 45.241% of a city taxpayers total property tax or $1,029.15 per year school tax on that $100,000 home plus the mere $3.91 additional tax we voted on ourselves when we passed last years mill levy.  I guess the logic is that if we are already paying this much how does adding another trifling $30 to the bill matter? 

Why is nothing ever said about the $579,000 increase the elementary district received last year because of increased enrollment?  Do they really need an additional $73,000 this year too?  Considering our economy do you really think the elementary district really couldn’t “make do” like the rest of us are forced to exist?  Did anyone else notice that the ballot of the High School District tax levy says you are voting to “impose a PERMANENT increase” in local taxes?  Ok – I admit it – I am still bitter about the wasted $200,000 on the search – hire – payoff to Mahon – new superintendent search budget and the subsequent kick to the taxpayers groin when we dared ask for information.  It is apparent it is still “Top-Secret” and we still are not educated enought to understand but it is time to fight back at the ballot box. 

I understand that inflation eats up a portion of the budget each year but unlike any other government entity the local school actually received about a one-percent increase in funding from the state. They DID NOT RECIEVE ANY CUTS to their budget yet here they appear again with a requested mill levy. The “Cuts” you read about in the newspaper are actually reductions in their requested increases. There is absolutely no reason to run a mill levy request. Talk to any teacher and you will hear that the district has Para-professional support staff up the ying-yang, they have an over abundance of administrators and they have many areas where they could actually save a few bucks if they were only so inclined. The reality of the situation is that it is much easier to just claim that “it’s about the kids” and continue to shove additional burdens on the property tax payers while making no changes in management priorities.
In addition I find it strange indeed that the school would choose to also request additional funds for the building reserve claiming it is to repair the high school roof when just a few months ago they were outlining plans to spend over $1.7 million on items such as a new weight training room, boy’s and girl’s locker rooms and etc. Has anyone bothered to check and see exactly how much money is now held in the building reserve fund? The roof was engineered by a professional, it was built by a licensed contractor, a school inspector was paid, a city building permit was issued and a building inspector should have been doing his job yet nowhere in any of the articles about this roof collapse does anyone say they are holding anyone accountable.

The only way to get a handle on the never ending budget increases for the school district is to start voting NO to this never ending mill levy requests. Do you recall that little mistake made by the county treasurer where they missed adding these mill levies on your tax notice? The bill you received for the missed portion of tax on last year’s tax notice was all for school mill levies. I guess all those “it’s only eight or ten dollars per year per house” really do add up to a substantial bill. Think about that before you vote to add another thirty dollars or so to your bill this go around.

Just as a sidenote here is a very informative article found over at the Electric City Weblog about the school district mill levy request in Great Falls


  1. The ballot says $7.25 per $100,000 home.That don't add up because last year when they messed up and didn't get the mill on our first tax notice,I got another tax notice saying i owe them $200.00 more, now you the editor say it will be an extra $30.00 per year,where did you get that figure from?Also there are approximatly 10,000 homes in havre,multiply $200.00 in to that,thats alot of money.

  2. I think we should vote out every incumbent til we get answers to that mahon mess that we're still paying on.We should vote no on this mill levy and make it known that we aren't going to pay for a roof every few years,because of their choices in incompetant engineers or contractors.

  3. FedUp
    Click on the Ballot on the post above to enlarge and you will see the school districts numbers on the three levies

    Elementary School District levy shows a cost of $7.25 on that hypothetical $100,000 home. Add the $7.42 for the High School District A mill levy and an additional $14.93 for the Building Reserve Levy and that equals $29.60 or rounded off to about $30 if in fact your home (or any other taxable property) is not valued more than $100,000.

    The last mill levy request was estimated to cost only $3.91 per $100,000 of valuation. What was deceiving about the late tax notice was that it was for all the prior levies we have voted for and not just the last one which was for less than $44,000. Our point in this story is that all these “small” amounts levied year after year add up to what your “additional” tax bill was which was the $200 or so you talked about in your comment. Do not forget that this is just the mill levy portion of the tax and as it states in the post below the actual tax paid to the school district is over a thousand dollars on that oft quoted $100,000 home.

    All these levies add up to some big buck to each property owner. Please consider this as you vote – it is not just a onetime charge of $3.91 as they would have you believe last election. For those that think we should do more for the school there is a Havre Foundation group that will accept donations of any amount to further the education cause and you are most welcome to send them a big donation without adding anymore onto our tax bills.

    I try to highlight links to other sources and additional information in red on my posts. Just click on the red to go that additional information.

  4. Thanks for the clarification,it's clear now,and I will take your advice about the H.F.G. donation.

  5. I would rather spend my money on "Wobblie Wendie's" militia to protect us from those pesky Canadians invasion than give money to educate spoiled brats.

  6. I support education and I love our teachers for the most part but I am voting against all the mill levy bills.

    They haven’t attempted to even try and cut back on any of the spending and have even been talking about doing more projects. The district needs to prove to me they can handle what we have been giving them before we kick in more. We have half the students we did 20 years ago and 10 times the budget

  7. I am voting against these mill levies but I predict they will pass anyway.

    We have all been brainwashed to never question anything the school administrators request because it is for our kid’s futures.

  8. The taxes really pile up when you have some farmland. I noticed that I pay more for teachers retirement than I actually squirrel away myself.
    Then again my tax bill is bigger than my yearly mortgage payment. Maybe that is why there isn't much left to squirrel away.

  9. And if we do not pass the mill levy what will they do? Like always they will cut staffing at the classroom level. $171,000 mill levy plus $185,000 building reserve is what they are asking for? It appears to me that our adminstration is not very financially savy. If my research is correct we are the only class A school district with an Asst. Superintendent. The cost of that salary has to be $100,000+ including benefits. Why do we need this position? Oh yah we hired a Superintendent who did not have certification. He must not feel comfortable running the district himself and needed help so he hired an assistant. That makes sense right? Seems to me that Asst Superintendent salary would go a long ways to covering the mill levy request. And isn't our Board Chairman a financial advisor? He should be able to crunch numbers fairly well. I believe there are others on the Board who have financial experience as well. Maybe Mahon wasn't the problem that needed to be rid of. Maybe it is the current administration who appears to have inadequate knowledge and experience to run the district. After all they took over for Mahon. Has Andy obtained the proper Superintendent certification yet? I vote no on all!

  10. I am voting no to any increase in funding.

    These people don’t even know for sure what their budget is going to be yet they ask for money just in case they may need it.
    We need to be watchful and if they cut one dollar to the classrooms we need to be ready to raise holy hell

    Enough Already

  11. This is some of that fuzzy math that the politicians are always using to prove some bad point or the other. My tax notice says my house has a market value of $67,043 but I think it is worth about $110 thousand. My total tax bill was for $2,079 so am I paying to much?

    Honestly I cannot afford the tax on this house as it is with or without adding on another $30

  12. Well Redneck your lucky. A relatives house in Rudyard was appraised for $102,000. About $30,000 more than its actually worth, but we get to pay $102K worth of taxes.