What property tax report cards say about the state of school district finances…

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 4:23 pm by

Here is a power point presentation analyzing the property tax report cards school districts filed with the State Education Department for the votes coming up on May 15.

Some of the key findings:

• Statewide average proposed tax increases are down from a year ago (from 3.4% to 2.2%).

• Proposed spending increases are up from a year ago (1.7% vs. 1.3%), but still well-below inflation (2.7% in latest CPI).

• School districts were holding down tax and spending increases even before the tax cap became law.

51 districts are seeking to over-ride the tax levy limit for their districts. About half of districts are proposing levy increases within 20% of the maximum increase allowed by their limit.

• Unlike some past years, there do not appear to be clear wealth-related patterns in proposed spending and tax increases, at least looking at the state as a whole.

• There is widespread concern about the year after next (2013-14). Looking at reserves helps identify why.

• Some state aid data:

− The overall pattern of state aid increases appears somewhat random due to the mix of (1) expense-based aids funded by current law, and (2) new general aid increases directed by the Governor and Legislature.

− Distribution of new general aid this year is more progressive than in some past years, but additions remain small in comparison to past cuts.


Some additional observations and conclusions:

• Despite an improved fiscal outlook for state government, the position of many school districts remains grim.

• The state aid increase for many districts is offset by the end of federal Education Jobs Funds.

• For the third straight year, proposed school spending increases average under 2% — probably less than what pensions and health insurance alone would drive, requiring districts to cut other spending on balance.

• After three difficult prior state budget cycles, many districts have exhausted easier budget cutting options.

•The tax cap does appear to be pushing down the tax increases which school districts are proposing.



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