Keeping Tax Rates Low
Keeping tax rates low while supporting educational needs is a top priority. Two elementary schools and UHS fitness center can be built in six to eight years with minimal tax increase of $0.25 per thousand of taxable valuation.
Understanding the $0.25 Increase in Property Tax Rates
As the patrons of the Urbandale Community go to the polls to vote on the proposed facility plans, the district has committed to increasing property tax no more than $0.25 per thousand of taxable valuation. The next natural question is “how can tax rates only go up $0.25 per thousand if the cost of paying for facilities is going up almost $0.75 per thousand?”
To understand how this is possible, it is important to understand how Iowa schools fund different parts of school operations. Iowa Code identifies the different uses and purposes for school district spending. Paying for the basic instruction and support for students comes from one source, paying for property and liability insurances come from another source, and paying for building facilities comes from a third source.
These different sources are called “funds.” Funds are established for spending on specific purposes. Each of these specific purposes, “funds,” have an identified source of revenue and very specific guidelines for spending. Urbandale has five types of “funds” that have revenue generated from property tax.
- General Fund: Basic operations of schools, such as salaries, benefits, supplies, utilities, etc.
- Management Fund: Paying for non-medical insurances and early retirement benefits.
- Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) Fund: Paying for facility upkeep and repairs and equipment over a certain dollar value.
- Physical Education and Recreation Levy Fund: Supporting community-based recreation activities.
- Debt Service Levy Fund: Paying for district borrowing to build facilities.
As with any business, spending needs vary from year-to-year. One year the district may need more funds for salaries, another year more for equipment, or in a third year more for insurance costs. Good business practices require the balancing of these different needs.
As the district balances these needs, they request different funding levels from the public each year. From the tax rate table below, you can see how the tax rate for different funds vary from year-to-year, which provides different funding levels each year.
The key to maintaining a maximum increase of $0.25 per thousand of taxable valuation is reducing the requested funding tax rate for the general fund, while increasing the requested rate for borrowing to build facilities. The following table rates are the actual projected changes in tax rates and funding request for the next school year.
As you can see from the chart directly above, the increase in the total tax rate of almost $0.25 for next year is achieved by varying the general fund, the management fund, and the debt service fund rates. As demonstrated on the first chart above (Urbandale Community School Property Tax Rates per Thousand Dollars Taxable Valuation), maintaining the constant $17.9999 tax rate over the next several years is also achieved by varying tax rates within different funds.
It is critical to note that other factors have an impact on the district’s ability to maintain the projected tax rate. The most critical of these is the increased taxable valuation within the Urbandale School District. As the district’s taxable valuation increases, the district can collect the same funding level at lower rates or higher funding levels at the same rate. This allows similar or greater year-to-year spending levels in some funds without increasing rates.
If you have questions about this information, please contact the District’s Chief Financial Officer, Mary Beth Fast, at 515-457-5003, or attend one of our community meetings.
Get Registered To Vote
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Download an official Absentee Ballot Request Form 2018.
Complete the form and mail to:
Jamie Fitzgerald, Polk County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections
Polk County Election Office
120 2nd Avenue—Suite A
Des Moines, IA 50309-4757
Please Note: Absentee ballot request forms must be received at the Polk County Auditor’s Office by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 26, 2018.