Rate to generate same amount
By Michael Prochaska
BOE millage increased because property values declined
The Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) will come almost two mills shy of a state constitutional cap if board members approve a millage rate increase Thursday, July 26, but the hike does not necessarily mean more taxes for property owners.
The proposed increase, or “roll up,” to 17.701 from the current millage rate of 15.545 would bring in the same amount of revenue as the previous year.
“It’s really not a tax increase,” said Chuck Anglin, chief appraiser of the Morgan County Tax Assessor Department. “It’s not that they are raising the millage rate to collect more. They are keeping the taxes the same by raising the millage rate.”
Anglin said prior to the past three years, a “roll up” was unheard of.
“Past values were increasing so they could ‘roll back,’” he said. “Now the values are going down, so you can roll them up to compensate.”
At fault is a waning housing market, with foreclosures on the rise and property values in decline.
About 86 percent of residential property has seen a decrease in value, Anglin said.
And the county's residential digest is about three times what commercial property is worth, Pam McWilliams, finance director for the Morgan County BOE, said.
A house valued at $200,000 in the previous year is now $169,000 in 2012, said McWilliams, factoring in a roughly 15 percent decrease.
In the previous fiscal year, the school board raised the millage rate to what it is now from 13.743, but the increase would have been steeper if not for an over-collection of ELOST funds. The roughly $1.8 million in excess Education Local Option Sales Tax (ELOST) collections, first discovered by the Morgan County Citizen, were eventually returned to taxpayers in the form of reduced property tax rates. That, in turn, caused a more than 2.2 mil difference between the gross maintenance and operations millage (M&O) and the net M&O rate in fiscal year 2012.
The originally proposed 17.797 millage rate for 2011 thus became 15.545, which allowed for a 2.21 percent decrease in revenue collected.
One mil currently brings in $685,975 but prior to 2010, a mill of property tax in the county yielded more than $1 million for the school system.
Exemptions are applied to varying households.
“The school has a lot more senior exemptions,” said Chuck Anglin, referring to the Homestead Exemption, a $2,000 savings.
– Citizen Managing Editor Kathryn Schiliro contributed to this story.
Printed in the July 19, 2012