We will continue to update this list as receive questions from the community. New questions will be posted at the top of the list.
1. Why is it called an “emergency levy”?
The levy was initially passed as an “emergency” levy in 2003. For that reason, the word “emergency” must remain as part of the tax levy renewal wording.
2. You’re saying there are no new taxes, what is the average taxpayer currently paying for this renewal levy?
The average taxpayer is currently paying $18.76/month for this renewal levy. That is based on the average home value in our district, which is $150,000.
3. How does an emergency levy work and why might millage rate change?
An emergency levy is a fixed sum levy that generates the same dollar amount of revenue each year for the district. Because the annual dollar amount stays the same, the amount of millage needed to generate that dollar amount will fluctuate. The reason millage would fluctuate is because property values increase/decrease on an annual basis. When property values increase, the amount of millage needed to generate a fixed sum of money would decrease or if property values decrease, the amount of millage needed would increase. For example, when the renewal levy was last passed in 2013, the millage rate was 5.24 mills. The estimated millage for the renewal now is 4.9 mills because property values have increased in our district.
4. What is a mill?
A mill is 1/10 of one penny. Ex. A mill produces $1.00 in tax income for every $1000 of assessed property value.
5. How long has this levy been in place?
The levy renewal was last passed in May 2013. This will be the 4th renewal of this emergency levy. It was initially passed in May 2003.
6. Why did the school board vote to move forward with the stadium when there are higher priority needs that impact teaching and learning, especially Hebron Elementary, on our Facilities Assessment?
In 2015, the district completed a Facilities Assessment to understand and prioritize all of the facilities needs in our district. Not surprising, Hebron Elementary was the #1 priority on that list. The assessment also provided a long list of specific facilities improvement needs in other buildings and at our stadium. When the board considered how to address the list, they looked at what they could address using general fund monies and what would require a bond issue.
They determined that addressing the needs at Hebron would require a bond issue and knew that they needed to involve the community in determining the best way forward - renovation, new building, etc. They also knew that it would take 5 – 6 years to get to a new building due to planning time, community involvement, passing the bond, and the design and construction process.
Then they looked at the other items on the list with a focus on those that impact basic student needs - warm, safe and dry – to understand what they could impact more quickly with available funds. That is what led to the work at the middle and high schools - roofing, safety vestibules and other improvements. The assessment also showed that there were safety concerns at the stadium, particularly with the bleachers (ranked #3 on the Facilities Assessment), and drainage and plumbing issues that had to be addressed.
The goal has been, and continues to be, to address all of the needs on the Facilities Assessment. The board decided to move forward on the stadium because the district was able to fund the project without an increase in taxes for our community and the donations provided to our Athletic Boosters for the new turf would bring down the total project cost. At the same time they began to address needs in other buildings and began the planning for a new elementary school to address our greatest need – Hebron’s aging facility.
7. Why does the district need this renewal levy when it has a large fund balance?
Lakewood maintains a fund balance sufficient to allow the district to continue to operate effectively if there is a change to district funding. There are two primary risk factors to district funding:
· First, property taxes and the reliance on two emergency levies
· Second, State Foundation Funding
The loss of either emergency levy or a change in state funding would impact the district’s annual revenues and require use of the district’s fund balance. Maintaining a reserve balance is a smart way to prevent the need to make major immediate cuts to programs.
8. Why is it important to pass the renewal levy now?
Passing the levy now does two things for the district. First, it allows the district and community to continue to benefit from the “Rollback” program offered by the state. Through this program, the state pays $167,500/year (up to 12.5% on residential/agricultural and owner-occupied properties) of the monies collected through the levy. When the levy is renewed, the rollback would be “grandfathered” on this levy. The program is no longer offered for new levies.
Second, the district would be able to move forward with plans for a bond issue for the new elementary school. Because funding for district operations are secured, the school board will be able to seek community approval to place a bond issue on the ballot for May 2018.
9. We’re hearing about multiple levies. What is actually planned?
The passage of the renewal levy will allow the district to move forward with planning for the new elementary school, which is tentatively planned for the May 2018 ballot. In November 2019 the renewal for the district’s second emergency levy is planned to be on the ballot. This levy does not increase taxes for our community.
10. What are the two emergency levies?
Lakewood maintains two emergency levies. One has a five-year term that provides $2,400,000 a year in revenue and the other has a ten-year term that provides $3,700,000 per year. Combined these levies produce over $6,000,000 per year. This means that, should voters decide not to renew these levies, up to 26% of the district’s revenues could be eliminated. Failure of either or both of these levies would have a significant impact on how the district operates.
12. Why does the district give abatements?
Offering abatements encourages businesses to move into the district. That means more jobs for the people in our community as soon as the business moves in and, while the tax benefits for our community may be delayed, we will receive taxes from those businesses down the road.
13. What percentage of total property taxes do local businesses in the district pay?
Roughly 35% of the district property taxes collected are paid by businesses located in the community.