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School Board approves annual tax levy

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 — At its meeting on Monday, the South St. Paul School Board approved the 2020 payable 2021 tax levy as presented. Changes in total value of all property in the District as well as state funding formulas have all contributed to the 5.4 percent property tax increase that our property owners are seeing for 2021.

A large portion of the property tax increase is really revenue neutral for the school district” said Aaron Bushberger, SSPPS director of finance. “As we have shared with residents for many years, the way the state calculates property tax levies and state aid for schools is complex and unfair.  With the increase in property values, the state funding formula decreases the amount of aid we receive from the state and shifts more of the burden on property owners.” 

Over the last several years, South St. Paul homeowners have continued to see an increase in property values which contributes to an increase in property taxes. Property owners saw the market value for their homes increase by an average of 4 percent from 2018 to 2019 taxes, 10 percent from 2019 to 2020, and 1.7 percent from 2020 to 2021.

Local property taxes contribute to approximately 16 percent of the school district’s revenue in a given year along with 79 percent from the state, 3 percent federal, and 2 percent from other sources. At the levy hearing on Monday evening, Bushberger shared that state general education funding has not kept pace with inflation and would need to increase nearly $500 per student to reach the inflation level.  In addition, districts are currently 40 percent underfunded from state and federal sources in their special education programming which equates to nearly $800 million statewide.

“As we have done in previous years, we will continue to advocate at the legislature for fair and equitable funding for our schools and for our students,” said Superintendent Dave Webb. “The state needs to change their funding formula to help ease the burden on our taxpayers and level the playing field for all Minnesota school districts.”