Tax Levy Remains Lower Than 17 Years Ago
The Minnetonka School Board has adopted a preliminary 2013 tax levy payable in 2014 of $36.9 million, a 4.84% increase over the 2012 tax levy. The increase is due to funding changes made during the 2013 State legislative session. The Board has a record of holding the line on property taxes. Today’s District property taxes are lower on a total dollar basis than they were 17 years ago.
After the Minnetonka School Board reduced the proposed preliminary levy calculated by the state, which was projected to create a 9.1 percent increase, the School Board adopted a preliminary tax levy for 2013 payable in 2014 at $36,984,369.22. This reduced levy is still an increase of $1,706,066.73 over the 2012 levy payable in 2013, or a 4.84 percent increase due to several decisions by the 2013 Legislature. The Board was able to make the reduction by using Debt Service reserves and by refinancing long-term debt at lower interest rates that save taxpayers money.
Because of the District’s strong credit rating, the interest rate on refinancing dropped from 4.13% to 2.82%. That action decreased the District’s outstanding debt due on June 30, 2014 by $740,000. During the past year, the District had refunded two bond issues with a cumulative effect of $1.5 million in savings for taxpayers.
The 4.84 percent increase in the levy is a direct result of education funding changes made during the 2013 legislative session. One change that increased the levy by $1.3 million is one approved by voters in 2007 that finally allows the District to levy the full amount of the inflationary factor for the District’s Operating Referendum. Until now, state law had artificially capped the amount the District could collect, even though voters had authorized annual inflationary increases since 2007.
A second impact on the levy is All Day Kindergarten, which was approved by the 2013 Legislature and adopted by the School Board last month. Capital expenditures that will be required to provide facilities for Kindergarten changed necessitated an increase in the local levy.
The tax impact of the proposed increase on a $300,000 home is estimated at approximately $72.85 annually or $6.07 per month. Specific changes on property taxes will be shown on the proposed tax statements mailed to taxpayers in November.
Minnetonka prides itself on responsible and prudent fiscal stewardship. Aggressive financial management on the part of the Board and Administration has saved taxpayers money and ensured that the 83.7% of the District’s annual operating budget is directed to the classroom to support students and instruction.
· The District’s Aaa Moody’s Bond Rating (the highest possible rating) is a testament to responsible financial management and strong fiscal oversight.
· Minnetonka's annual operating fund expenditures per student (based on average daily membership) is $9,579 for FY12. According School District Profiles published by the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnetonka's per pupil spending is below the state average for like-size districts and below the seven-county metro area average. District debt service is also below the state and metro area.
· A self-insured health insurance plan for employees is saving the District $6 million annually in insurance premiums.
· Minnetonka has earned the Energy Star Leader Award, recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for improving energy efficiency and as a Top Performer for achieving an average Energy Star performance score of 81 across its portfolio of all buildings. The District is one of only 211 Energy Star Leaders in the nation--across all industry sectors--since the program began in 2004.
· Competitive bidding for transportation services decreased costs 7.1% below 2007-08 rates for 2010-11 with a guarantee to not exceed 2007-08 rates through 2012-2013.
· Minnetonka continues to focus on innovative programs and high quality staff to attract families into the District. Planned enrollment growth benefits all programs and students in the District and protects the District from budget cuts during uncertain financial times.
· Minnetonka is the top selected district for parent choice through Minnesota's Open Enrollment statute. More than 1,500 families elect to open enroll into Minnetonka Schools from 42 school districts in Minnesota.
· Minnetonka has taken advantage of a competitive construction climate and record-low interest rates to invest in the long-term maintenance of our buildings. All district schools and the Minnetonka Community Education Center have been renovated since 2009. The excellent condition of our buildings signals to all who enter them that the Minnetonka School District is a place where important learning and community activities occur.
· Public-private partnerships have funded exceptional fine arts and athletic facilities, allowing district funds to be focused on instructional space. Thanks to the City of Minnetonka for partnership in the Art Center on 7 at Minnetonka High School; Minnetonka Diamond Club for contributions to Veterans and Legacy Fields (baseball and softball complex); Minnetonka Youth Hockey Association for funding the Pagel Center arena; the Minnetonka Anchor Club for contributions to the Minnetonka Aquatics programs (at MME in 2009 and MMW coming in 2013); the Touchdown Club for contributions to the Tonka Dome, Einer Anderson Stadium and Veterans Field; Hennepin County Youth Sports Program for granting Tennis Courts at MME, a playground area at Groveland, artificial surface for the MHS JV baseball field, and coming in 2013 an artificial surface for the MHS soccer/lacrosse practice fields.
· Focusing on innovation in education, the Minnetonka Public Schools Foundation endows the Writing Center at MHS and funds more than $65,000 annually in innovative teacher grants. Since 1999, The Foundation has awarded close to $550,000 for grants that enhanced the curriculum in all academic subject areas, technology, fine arts, early childhood education, special education and community service.