Mock tax run for pool shows $84,000 loss to police, library option levies

Sean C. Morgan

Compression will cost local governments a little more than $84,000 in local option levies if a new aquatics district were formed with a 30-cent property tax rate to fund pool operations in Sweet Home.

A 30-cent property tax rate would generate approximately $229,600 for the district, Business Manager Kevin Strong told the District 55 School Board Monday night. The Linn County local option levy primarily used to help fund the Linn County Sheriff’s Office would lose approximately $21,667. The Sweet Home Police Department levy would lose an estimated $57,549, and the city library levy would lose $5.57.

Tax rates compared to real market values are limited to $10 per $1,000 of valuation, while taxes are assessed based on the assessed value of a property. The tax revenue from individual properties is reduced if the total exceeds the $10 limit compared to real market values. The reduction of the revenue is called “compression.”

When compression takes effect, local option levy revenue is reduced to zero before permanent rates, such as the aquatic district’s proposed rate, are reduced.

“We did have the mock tax run done, showing what impact the aquatics district would have on other taxing districts,” Strong said. “You’re the first group we’ve shared this information with. This is something we’ll want to share with the city because this is a significant impact.”

The Police Department budget for 2011-12 is $2.6 million. The library budget is $263. In the city’s 2010-11 budget, the city planned for $293,409 in police levy compression and $28,424 in library levy compression, but it underestimated the figure. The actual amount of compression for 2010-11 is $458,507 in the police levy and $44,417 in the library levy, meaning the city is realizing lost revenue in the current fiscal year.

School board members were interested in exploring whether they might be able to use funds that were slated to take maintain the pool after closing it and paying part of the cost of a school resource police officer, a position that was lost in the district’s and city’s budgets this year, and helping offset the compression loss.

City Councilor Jim Gourley told the board that the council will probably want a number of questions answered before it supports the formation of the aquatics district. He asked what level of support the district might give to the pool.

The impact of compression on city levies is essentially the city’s contribution, Gourley said.

“I think we all realize it’s going to be very difficult to pass if the city isn’t on board,” Strong said.

If this is going to work, said Board Chairman Jason Redick, there’s going to have to be collaboration between all three groups, the district, the city and county.

He said he would like to meet with the City Council and aquatics district committee to discuss the aquatics district and funding.

Board members present included Billie Weber, Chanz Keeney, Jason Redick, Dale Keene, Mike Reynolds, Jenny Daniels and Kevin Burger. David VanDerlip and Mike Adams were absent.

In other business, the board:

n Received a report from Transportation Supt. L.D. Ellison about potential changes to bus routes.

Ellison is looking at changing several routes and eliminating others, at least three, to save some $75,000, although 70 percent of that expense is reimbursed by the state.

A number of routes are on gravel roads and dead ends, Supt. Don Schrader said. It is difficult for buses to turn around.

In one case, a bus driver had to back down Whiskey Butte Drive 3.5 miles in the dark when a tree blocked the path, Ellison said. In other cases, long loops serve only one or two families.

The district will contact and negotiate with parents on other options, including collection points or using smaller vehicles if necessary, Ellison said.

Routes under consideration include Whiskey Butte, Wiley Creek, Clark Mill and Green River, Jones, High Deck, Greenville Road, Kingsbury, Springer, Scott Mountain and West Brush Creek.