Though district seeks levy, tax payers could see decrease in bill

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Despite adding a new levy request to the May ballot, the Whitefish School District expects a slight decrease in taxpayer impact next year.

The Whitefish School Board on March 13 voted 5-1 to request a $95,000 general fund levy in the elementary district, with Trustee Marguerite Kaminski voting in opposition.

The levy would raise the 2018-19 maximum budget for the elementary and high school districts from $13.3 million to $13.8 million. The $476,000 increase in the budget comes from increased enrollment and increased funding sources from the state, district business director Danelle Reisch said. Budget figures for the 2018-19 year are preliminary.

The estimated taxpayer impact for homes with a taxable valuation of $100,000 would be about $2, and for a $200,000 home about $4.

Reisch said legislation passed in the previous session increased the guaranteed tax base reimbursement for each district.

“The thing that’s a little confusing is the taxpayer impact would say it’s a maximum levy ... but in reality, our taxpayers are going to see a tax decrease,” she said. “I’m not sure it will be noticeable, it’s not a huge decrease. There will be some tax savings for our taxpayers, even though they have to vote for that levy. It’s a little bizarre.”

The increased budget would allow adding an eighth and fifth grade teacher as well as a music technology and choir director position.

In the same meeting, the board also voted unanimously for increases in its permissive levies, again at a minimal cost to taxpayers.

Increases come to adult education, transportation, tuition and building reserve levies at a taxpayer impact of $1.54 for homes with a taxable valuation of $100,000 and $2.21 for homes valued at $200,000.

The building reserve levy will be used to fund repairs to the Whitefish High School roof, as well as parking lot and carpet replacement and repairs across the three schools.

Legislation passed last year requires the district to adopt and publish a notice of intent to increase levies.

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