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Board approves local tax levy with 1.07 percent decrease in property taxes, continues to advocate Legislature for referendum equalization to “level playing field”

Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 — At its meeting on Monday, Dec. 10, the South St. Paul School Board approved the final tax levy for 2018 payable 2019. The levy represents a decrease of 1.07 percent from last year’s overall levy. Statewide, the Minnesota Department of Education estimates that the average school district levy will increase by 6.4 percent this year. The board’s approval followed the district’s annual Truth in Taxation presentation by Aaron Bushberger, director of finance. No one spoke at the hearing.

“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,” said Aaron Bushberger, SSPPS director of finance. “Several of our levies actually increased this year, but because of the increase in property values in South St. Paul, the portion of state aid decreases, resulting in the same amount of revenue for the district, but a shift to more burden on property owners.”

Local property taxes contribute approximately 14 percent of the school district’s revenue in a given year. Two percent of the revenue is generated through participation fees, facility rental fees, gifts to the district, etc. About 80 percent of annual funding comes from state funding, and about three percent from federal sources.

Bushberger shared that the district will see increases in its referendum, local options, equity and transition levies, and decreases in adjustments/abatements for the general and community services funds. The changes do not provide for additional revenue for the district, but rather the portion of money coming from local property owners versus state aid.

“This shifting mix of aid and property taxes is why we continue to fight for referendum equalization at the Legislature,” said Superintendent Dave Webb. “Equalization will help level the playing field for all Minnesota school districts and provide needed revenue for South St. Paul schools.”