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Budget and property tax valuations for L-M
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · February 1st, 2018

Linn-Mar's Chief Financial Officer, JT Anderson, provided information about Linn-Mar's certified budget for fiscal year 2019. It must be filed by April 15, 2018.

Timeline for

discussion and filing

The budget will be established during February and early March. During this time, Anderson will be closely monitoring legislative action.

He will then make a presentation at the school board meeting on March 5, 2018. A hearing date will be set at that time. Please note that this and all school board meetings, unless noted otherwise, are open to the public.

Next, the proposed budget will be published in the Marion Times on March 22, 2018. A public hearing and board adoption of the certified budget is tentatively set for the school board meeting on Monday, April 9, 2018.

The budget must be filed with the Iowa Department of Management and the Linn County Auditor by April 15, 2018.

Anderson noted that there are two purposes for a certified budget: to establish a maximum tax rate and to establish an estimate of expenses for the relevant budget year (2019, in this case).

Tax rate trends

Historically, the tax rate decreased from 2009 to 2015. Anderson provided a chart with the years 2011 through 2018. It showed these amounts per $1,000 of assessed valuation:

2011 -- $19.74

2012 -- $18.54

2013 -- $17.73

2014 -- $17.27

2015 -- $17.00

2016 -- $17.38

2017 -- $17.38

2018 -- $17.38

The increase in 2016 was due to inadequate state funding and low property valuation growth.

Statewide, the highest district tax rate for FY2018 is $21.58 in Perry, Iowa, and the lowest is $7.80 in Okoboji.

The median for 330 Iowa schools is $13.43. However, this figure is misleading, because approximately 80% of school districts use some sort of income surtax which reduces their overall rate. Linn-Mar does not use an income surtax.

Property Valuations

The Linn County Auditor has released fiscal year 2018-2019 valuations. According to Anderson, the FY2019 budget taxable valuations are based on January 2017 assessments. For 2018-2019, the total growth in valuation was 6.62%, while the 10-year average annual growth rate was 4.5%.

The non-TIF taxable valuation growth was 5.64% and TIF valuation increased 30.77%.

Linn-Mar's tax base looks like this:

68% - residential

27% - commercial

2% - agriculture

2.5% - multi-residential

0.5% - other


Several different funds make up the total tax levy - general, management, PPEL, PERL, and debt service. (PPEL = physical plant and equipment levy; PERL = public education and recreation levy).

Many residents think the school board has control of whether the tax levy increases or decreases, but this is not true, according to Anderson. He noted that the general fund levy primarily is based on a formula which is controlled by the State of Iowa. Other levies (PERL and PPEL) were authorized by voters who live in the Linn-Mar District.

In reality, in 2018 the state controlled 55% of the tax levy, while voters controlled 19% with 26% controlled by the school board.

The formula for Iowa school aid for kindergarten through 12th grade is primarily based on student enrollment figures. Anderson showed enrollment for 2009 through 2018. Over that time span, certified enrollment increased by almost 950 students:

2009 → 6491

2010 → 6601

2011 → 6644

2012 → 6730

2013 → 6880

2014 → 6943

2015 → 7145

2016 → 7198

2017 → 7313

2018 → 7436
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