Board sets levy at max value

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Austin Public Schools Board set the district’s 2011-2012 payable levy at its maximum value Monday, which district officials say gives the district flexibility in case voters pass the upcoming $28.9 million referendum this November.

The proposed levy isn’t something district officials set, rather it’s what city, county and state governments decide to set. Next year’s levy could be lower as the capital funds levy for the 1991 Austin High School renovation will finally be paid off. District officials estimate the levy to be set at about $5.1 million as opposed to the $5.9 million the district got last year.

That could change if voters approve a $28.9 million bond referendum for a proposed fifth and sixth grade school and a Woodson Elementary School expansion project. The expiring levy would cover more than 2/3 of the bond referendum costs, according to district officials.

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By setting the levy to its maximum instead of a specific dollar amount now, district officials can take the bond referendum’s passage or defeat at the board’s December meeting, when board members will finalize next year’s levy.

“It provides boards with more flexibility,” Mark Stotts, finance and operations director, told the board Monday.

If the referendum fails, the district’s levy could decrease by as much as 14 percent, or $825,000, but district officials say the loss of the Homestead Market Value Credit and other tax shifts could make up the difference and more.

By the same token, if the referendum passes, taxpayers may not pay as much into the new referendum as previously thought, according to Stotts.

“The way the formulas are set up, we’re going to be receiving more state aid than more taxpayers’ levy,” he told the board.