Greenfield school taxes dip with state aid jump

District's levy will be 7.4% lower this time around

Nov. 5, 2013

Greenfield — With more than $500,000 in previously unbudgeted state aid, the School Board last week was able to lower the district's property tax levy by nearly 7.4 percent compared with last year's levy.

Greenfield school officials had originally anticipated a levy drop of only 0.57 percent, and that is the levy the district annual meeting approved in September.

But on Oct. 15, the state certified $305,017 in additional state aid. Five days later, $208,800 more came in when the governor signed Act 46 into law, using excess state revenue for property tax relief statewide.

The unexpected aid brought the total increase in state general aid this year to nearly $2.6 million, Amy Kohl, director of business services, wrote in a memo to the School Board. The corresponding levy decrease translates into a savings of nearly $77 per $100,000 of assessed value for property tax payers, she wrote.

Aside from the unexpected dollars, the district also benefitted from an 52-student increase in enrollment, which is also tied to state aid. And a $9 million drop in debt service also helped lower the property tax levy.

In the end, it meant a property tax levy of $23,114,823 for the nearly $47.8 million 2013-14 budget.

School Board President Bruce Bailey issued a statement this week noting that the board was "pleased" with the final budget, especially in terms of the property levy reduction "in these tough economic times." He also alluded to the two-year-old law known as Act 10 that drastically weakened the bargaining power of public employee unions.

"A property tax levy decrease of 7.39 percent is an unprecedented reduction in this day and age. Increased enrollment, additional aid, and Act 10 helped us to give taxpayers a break," Bailey said.

It marked the second time in three years that the levy has gone down.

Overall, the schools will spend 7.59 percent more than they did last year for all purposes. The total for all funds this year is nearly $3.4 million more compared with $44.4 million in spending last year.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

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