Prescott School District tax rate, levy down

The tax rate paid by Prescott School District homeowners is expected to take a big dip this year.

With equalized district value topping $1 billion for the first time, the rate paid per $1,000 of property value for the school share of the tax bill is dropping from $10.23 last year to $8.37 for the tax bills that will be mailed in December.

The jump in equalized value is expected to be 20 percent when final numbers from the state come in. The district’s value a year ago was $954,225,065, compared to $1,141,017,950 this year.

Residents will get a chance to hear a budget review at the school district annual meeting, which was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. in the Prescott High School library. Superintendent Dr. Rick Spicuzza reviewed the preliminary budget with the school board at its regular monthly meeting Sept. 21.

The tax levy – the amount of money raised through property tax bills – is projected to be down 2 percent, from $9,759,290 to $9,548,802 for the 2022-23 school year.

School board members were pleased with the information.

“This is really good news,” said Vicki Rudolph.

“I like our tax impact coming down,” said Tanya Holub. “That’s what we promised the community.”

In the last 10 years, the high-water mark for the tax rate was $12.38 per $1,000 of property value in 2017-18.

“Financially, we’re very strong,” said Board President Mike Matzek. “We’ve dropped the mill rate four points. That’s pretty incredible. It’s super impressive and a positive.”

Of the total levy, $5,205,027 is the stateset revenue limit the district is allowed to levy. On top of that, the school district’s community service levy for this school year is $175,000. The levy from voter-approved debt is $3,779,875.

Spicuzza said the biggest challenge to budgeting is the fact that the state legislature isn’t acting on funding schools.

“At this time, they are sitting on somewhere between $5-$7 billion in taxpayers’ money. I believe it would be very helpful for that money to be coming back to our commu- nity to invest in our students and stau and the great academic programs we have.”

Spicuzza had predicted it would be a dif- ficult year, but with the addition of some money that has come in from federal COVID Emergency Relief for Schools, the district general fund balanced out with revenue and expenses of $17,296,768.

“At this time, we believe we will have a balanced budget. That is a testament to a lot of the foresight you had as a board to pay ou some of your previous debt for loans you had, being able to reduce $1 million in interest, our ability to pass the referendum and lock in rates,” said Spicuzza.

In the budget, the district was able to put $125,000 into its capital projects fund, which can be used for building and classroom projects not included in the $15 million projects that voters approved in April. That fund will be at $1,167,000.

The district also has a fund balance of $5.6 million.

“Our fund balance is creeping up. We’re projecting to be at around $5.6 million. We have a budget of $17 million. What’s the ceiling that we set in policy that we want to be around?” Matzek asked.

“We’re at the ceiling,” Spicuzza responded.

A work session was planned for Monday, Sept. 26 to start talking about proposals sur- rounding aligning grades in diuerent build ings and looking at the district greenspace and outdoor athletic facilities.

“This is where you start to talk about putting the puzzle pieces together as you identify the learning areas that have to be enhanced, as well as the grounds for athletics that we’ve started to discuss,” Spicuzza said. “When we went out for $15 million (the April referendum for building infrastructure projects), we specifically stated we would be looking at not increasing our mill rate as well as not increasing the amount of the levy. It was a promise made and a promise kept.”

September 27, 2022