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School tax rate will be lowest in 8 years
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MONROE - Monroe's tax rate for school purposes will be the lowest the district has seen since the 2006-07 school year.

The school board approved Monday a total tax levy of $10.95 million for 2014-15, but according to Ron Olson, the district's business manager, that number will be adjusted for next week's board meeting now that information on pupil count, property valuation and state aid is in.

The adjusted tax levy will be $10.91 million to be approved next week, Olson said, which is a 2.28 percent decrease from 2013-14. With that levy, the tax rate would be $10.65 per $1,000 of a home's value, a 5.25 percent drop from last year's $11.24.

This tax rate is the sixth lowest the district has seen in more than 20 years, with lower rates between 1996 and 1999 and for two years around 2005.

Both state aid and property valuation increased this year, with aid up 4.14 percent for 2013-14 and valuation up 3.14 percent. Olson said these changes drove the levy and tax rate down.

He said the slight uptick in enrollment and increased spending for projects last year may be partially responsible for the higher state aid this year.

"We were pretty happy about that," he said, referring to the increase in aid.

Student enrollment is at 2,441 for September, down from 2,468 in 2013.

"We had a nice bubble last year and a little dip this year with move-outs," Olson said.

With recent resignations and retirements, student to staff ratios are reaching the state average, but the district still has slightly fewer students per staff member than average, he said.

The general fund budget as presented Monday is $28.78 million, and the total budget, including debt service and food service expenditures, comes to $39.13 million. That's a 2.35 percent decrease from last year's budget of $40.07 million.

The Chromebook leases skew this year's budget, both in revenues and expenditures, according to Olson. Without the lease amount included, both would be lower.

A $10.65 expected tax rate translates to a tax bill of $799 for the owner of a $75,000 home, compared to $843 last year. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay $2,130 in taxes, compared to $2,248 last year.

While the public can attend the annual meeting and vote on the school district's budget, there was no public input. No members of the public attended the meeting, except Monroe High School Associate Principal Jeriamy Jackson.