School Taxes Spelled Out - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

School Taxes Spelled Out

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Voters will be asked in less than three months to give Minot Public Schools the go-ahead to expand the district's infrastructure.

It would happen only if a vote scheduled for December 10th receives the support of at least 60 percent of voters.

Perry Olson has more on the finances of the decision -- and looks at what other school districts across the the state have done recently with bond votes.

Bond issues have been common across North Dakota in recent years. Recently Williston voters said no to 55 million, but many have been successful. Bismarck is constructing a new high school that just broke ground this month...along with two new elementary schools. It cost taxpayers 86.5 million and got strong support. West Fargo also soundly passed a bond vote. 82.5 million dollars for new infrastructure including enough new school space that it has eliminated the need for portables. About two dozen of these are used in Minot.

(Scott Moum - MPS Business Manager) "I had a counterpart in another large school district that recently passed a healthy bond issue and he said that the people of Minot can't be surprised that you are asking for so much because it has been so long since a successful bond issue. 1969. We have limped along and patched buildings."

The district hopes to make that limp a strong step moving forward.

(Scott Moum - MPS Business Manager) "We are at capacity. We are growing. We have to do something to address those problems and concerns."

So if approved, what would a 125 million dollar bond mean to the property owner in the district? In numbers compiled by the district, it would look like this: Currently, school taxes on a 200-thousand dollar home equal 12-hundred-69 dollars. However, that will drop substantially next year after action by the legislature this past session. In 2013 school property taxes will drop to 735 dollars. That's a savings of 533 dollars. Should this bond pass, taxes could go up in 2014 to 11-hundred-96 dollars. And that's if the district sold all the bonds immediately...which Moum says wouldn't happen.

(Scott Moum - MPS Business Manager) "Just because we get approval to sell 125 million if we are successful doesn't mean we would immediately go and sell 125 million." (Scott Moum - MPS Business Manager) "I don't like debt. I won't incur debt until I have to incur it. I don't like making principal and interest payments and I am sure the taxpayers don't either."

It means -- on a 200-thousand dollar home -- taxes after a successful vote would be lower still then they are now -- by about 72 dollars after all the bonds were sold. Of course, Moum says he understands that home values increase raising taxes paid...and the bond would virtually eliminate the relief passed last session...but on the other hand he says as the district grows, more property will come on line, spreading out the tax burden on more patrons...and perhaps more help from the state could come.

(Scott Moum - MPS Business Manager) "If the legislature passes something in their next session in 2015 and there are some state monies available that would just lesson the amount that we would have to sell."

 

The district doesn't know if that would happen, but officials say growth can't wait -- because the students are here...and more continue to come. Voters will decide how to handle it soon. In Minot, Perry Olson, KX News.

Again, that vote comes on December 10th.

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