K-12 public schools, cities and counties represent more than 85 percent of the total property taxes in the state of Iowa. The basic equation for property taxes in Iowa is really pretty simple; it is a tax rate multiplied by taxable value equals taxes levied. However, the way these governmental entities can spend those tax dollars differs: cities and counties are “rate” limited whereas schools are “budget” limited.

Rate limits carry different results from budget limitations, giving cities and counties more flexibility with which to operate their budgets. For example, if a city has a tax rate of $8.10 per thousand and the property valuation in the city doubles, if they leave the tax rate unchanged, they’ll have twice as many property tax dollars. Likewise, if the same city loses half of its property valuation, it will lose half of its revenue.

Schools are different. The legislature effectively sets a school district’s budget by setting a maximum spending per child. In a school district, if the property tax valuation doubles, the tax rate falls, but the amount of money the district has to spend is exactly the same. Likewise, if the property valuation falls by half, the total budget of the district remains the same, but the property tax rate will increase. In schools, the vast majority of the tax rate is driven by this formula; local school boards have limited ability to influence the General Fund tax rate.

So, how much impact can a local school board have on the district’s tax rate? The answer to this question isn’t definite; it depends. Of our total tax rate of $12.9411 per thousand, $4.400 per thousand is due solely to the operation of the School Foundation Formula, while board and voter approved levies amounting to $8.5411 supplement our instruction and provide our facility budget. While some may wish to call these “optional” levies, in reality most school districts around the state utilize some or all of these levies.

Due to the low levels of spending increases in the last six years allowed by the state, there has been an increasing trend to utilize more of these “optional” levies to replace funding not provided by the state. We are committed to providing the best value for taxpayers in our district, but we are also committed to providing the best possible education in the IKM-Manning Community School District. This is what your school board members and administrators struggle with every day. In the next few weeks we will be preparing the 2012-2013 school budget.

On a different note, beginning with the 2013-14 school year the IKM-Manning District will be a part of the Western Iowa Conference, leaving the Western Valley Conference. All parties involved in this decision feels it is a great move for all.

Over the next few weeks our boy’s and girl’s basketball teams will be involved in the Western Valley Conference Tournament. Refer to the website to keep up on the changing schedule.

Again, if you have questions please contact me at tward@ikm-manning.k12.ia.us or call the school at 712-654-2852. Have a great week.

Yours in education-Dr. Ward

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