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Monroe district approves lowest tax rate in 2 decades
School Board

MONROE — The Monroe Board of Education approved a tax levy at its lowest rate since the district’s 1998-99 school year during its meeting Monday. 

Business Administrator Ron Olson detailed the proposed budget during the meeting at the District Administrative Center to a full board, pointing to prior discussions in which residents had expressed concerns over how recent property revaluations could impact taxes. Namely, people who lived within the district were worried over the prospect of a tax hike because of higher property values.

But instead of increasing the amount of their taxes, the 3.4 percent increase in equalized value of homes within the district lowered the mill rate to $10.55. The levy by the district was decreased by 8.4 percent from the previous year, Olson said. Homeowners with a home valued at $100,000 will pay $1,055 in school taxes. 

The number had been reduced in the previous year, when the board approved a 2 percent decrease from the prior year and the mill rate was $11.51 per $1,000 of home value. 

Board members Nikki Matley and Mary Berger expressed happiness at the news of a reduced tax rate for district residents.

“I don’t think it gets any better than that,” Berger said. 

Levy figures are also decreased, Olson said. Board members heard adjusted revenue accounts from the proposed budget discussed a week earlier during the annual meeting. Olson said because enrollment was down slightly, the district had gained a small increase in total revenue and that the district received a more significant increase in general aid than anticipated. 

The state Department of Public Instruction released general aid figures Oct. 15 and Monroe received a bump of more than $127,000 for the 2018-19 school year, an increase of 0.79 percent.

The projected deficit was reduced from $290,000 to $226,000.

The final levy with adjusted changes was just under $12 million, Olson said, which is a 5.33 percent decrease from the previous year’s levy of $12.7 million.

Board member Teresa Keehn asked how the new numbers could affect the referendum questions on the Nov. 6 ballot, one a request to exceed the tax revenue limit by $1.5 million annually for five years beginning in the 2019-20 school year, and a second which asks taxpayers for permission to borrow $3.36 million in general obligation bonds for facility updates, like HVAC systems, accessibility improvements and safety upgrades.

Olson said the referendum would still not increase taxes, effectively not changing any of the plans already laid out for the district. 

City homeowners saw a change of 3.77 percent in home value from last year, up to more than $6.9 million from $6.6 million for the 2017-18 school year. Because of the change brought on by reassessments of a number of homes within Monroe, the levy decreased by 5 percent, dropping to $7.3 million from over $7.7 million. All municipalities saw a decrease in individual portions of the levy except for Browntown, which went up by 2 percent to more than $144,000.