Assessed valuation doesn’t affect school funding |

Assessed valuation doesn’t affect school funding

On Aug. 15, the Post Independent published a news article that mistakenly reported Garfield County receiving $1.7 billion, Garfield School District Re-2 receiving $987 million, and Garfield County School District 16 receiving $672 million in property taxes. These figures represent the assessed valuation for oil and gas within each taxing district, not the property tax received. The county and school districts do not receive anywhere near this amount of property tax annually.It is hard to believe that the Post Independent still doesn’t know the difference between the total assessed value of all the property in Garfield County and the tax revenues that are generated by that property. It’s like mixing up the value of your home and the taxes you pay.Assessed valuation, which is the actual value of property multiplied by the assessment rate, has substantially increased in the county over the last few years due to the recent oil and gas boom. However, an increase in assessed valuation does not necessary equate to increased property tax revenues. Garfield County and local municipalities have some flexibility in how they adjust their tax rates in years with significant increases in assessed valuation. They can sometimes maintain their property tax rate in light of increased assessed valuation and bring in more money for restricted purposes.However, school districts do not have that flexibility. School districts are governed by the Public School Finance Act of 1994. It uses a calculation including the number of students, cost of living in the district, personnel costs, and at-risk pupil count to determine how much money the district will receive per pupil.Additionally, a school district’s annual operating revenue and spending growth are capped by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and Amendment 23. No matter what the assessed valuation does, school district funding increases or decreases based upon inflation plus pupil growth plus 1 percent. The assessed valuation does NOT impact the school district’s funding. It only impacts the property tax rate. As the assessed valuation within a school district’s boundaries goes up, residential and commercial property tax rates actually decrease in Colorado.The only way that school districts can receive additional property tax is by asking for funding through bond and mill levy elections. Significant increases in assessed valuation can allow school districts to request bonds and mill levies without increasing the prior year’s property tax rates. And with the growth in value of the oil and gas properties in the school district, most of the money for bond issues and mill levies will be paid by the oil and gas companies.While I appreciate the article in the Post Independent on Thursday, the damage caused by the failure of the Post Independent to carefully review their facts before publishing information that is misleading to residents and potentially harmful to the school districts, has already been done.Sally Brands is a general contractor in Rifle and was on the Re-2 school board for 8 years. She gets her understanding of gas company revenues from her husband’s mother, Joan Savage.

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