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YORK school district

York school district figures are misleading on LB 644 postcards

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Pink postcards

Property owners in the Centennial School District have received bright pink postcards in the mail informing them of an upcoming hearing regarding the district’s more-than-2% increase in tax asking. But there is an issue with the figures.

YORK – Property owners in the York School District have received bright pink postcards in the mail informing them of an upcoming hearing regarding the district’s more-than-2% increase in tax asking. But there is an issue with the figures presented on the postcards as it appears the increase for individual properties will be much higher than is the reality.

The requirement for the post cards and the announcement of a special public hearing (because the tax asking is over 2%) was created by the Property Tax Request Act that was passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2021 and took effect this year. The Act requires postcards to be sent to each parcel owner (in a taxing sub-district) that includes details about the proposed increases and location information for a special hearing, where the increase had to be explained and the members of the public can speak.

If the tax asking goes over 2%, it is now required for these postcards to be sent out, according to the new law.

The issue with the information on the cards is that they indicate individual parcels’ taxes will be going up at a greater rate than they actually are.

York Superintendent Mitch Bartholomew explained, “The information is inconsistent and therefore inaccurate.”

The school district’s levy will remain exactly the same as it was last year – at $1.19.

However, the 2021 taxes listed on the postcards – for each individual parcel in the district – were calculated based on a levy of $1.07. This was the levy with the bond levy excluded.

The 2022 taxes listed on the postcards – for each individual parcel in the district – were calculated based on a levy of $1.19. This is the levy with the bond levy included.

Therefore, the estimated increase looks much higher than it will actually be, Bartholomew said.

York County Assessor Tami Norquest said her office and the school district were given different sets of information from the state as to whether or not the bond levies were to be included in these calculations.

So when the state sent out the postcards, they provided two sets of information based on different data which created much higher comparisons that what is reality.

“Again, the estimated tax increases are wrong because the levy for the school district has not changed,” Bartholomew said.

In essence, with different data provided for the 2021 taxes and the 2022 estimated taxes – it is literally comparing apples with oranges.

“What happened was that two different entities came together with information and there were no checks or balances,” Norquest said.

“We are all in this together and we want to explain the discrepancy people are seeing, and explain that the estimated increases are higher on the postcards than what they really actually will be,” Bartholomew said.

Norquest also pointed out that this information pertains to the school district taxes – these postcards did not pertain to other taxing entities in the county.

So the good news is that the school district’s tax levy did not increase.

And there is a way to see what a property owner’s real tax increase is. If someone received a postcard, because they own property in the York School District, they can follow this formula to see a true comparable ($1.19 tax levy) number for the 2021 taxes that can then be compared with the 2022 figures: take your 2021 assessed value figure x $1.19; then divide that number by 100. That figure can then be compared to the 2022 figure – for a true, real comparison. As property owners will see, the newly calculated figure will be much lower (as far as the estimated increase) than what they see on the postcard.

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