From classroom trends to school board decisions, Class Act will keep you updated on all the school issues followed by the Star Tribune’s education reporters. Contributors include Steve Brandt, who covers Minneapolis; Kim McGuire, who covers the west metro; Erin Adler, who covers the south metro; Anthony Lonetree and Libor Jany, who cover St. Paul and the east metro, and Paul Levy and Shannon Prather, who cover the north metro.

Schools levy could rise, but taxes still fall in St. Paul

Posted by: Anthony Lonetree Updated: September 10, 2013 - 8:18 PM

St. Paul's school levy could rise by 1 percent, but most homeowners still would see a property-tax savings, under a proposal presented to school board members Tuesday.

The development was the latest in a string of positive signs for St. Paul taxpayers, having come after the city's other two major taxing jurisdictions -- Ramsey County and the city of St. Paul -- unveiled 2014 budget proposals calling for no increases in their respective levies.

The school district's proposal came with a cautionary note: The state Department of Education, which provides levy calculations to the district, has been providing flawed data, and numbers will continue to be crunched as the district nears its Sept. 30 deadine for setting the ceiling for its 2014 levy.

Once that number is set, the board can lower it, but not raise it by the time it takes final action in December.

If the 1 percent increase were to stand, the county has projected that the owner of a median-valued St. Paul home would pay $669.39 for the school district's share of the property-tax bill in 2014, compared with $699.18 in 2013, or a $29.79 savings, school officials say.

The projection assumes no change in the home's market value.

Earlier this year, the county assessor said that the aggregate value of residential property in St. Paul had dropped by 0.5 percent, and that the median-valued home now had a market value of $129,600, compared with $131,800 a year ago.

The district's projections include a proposal to levy for the costs of maintenance projects, such as roof replacements, rather than issue bonds to pay for the work. Without that plan, the savings to taxpayers could be greater in 2014. But officials say the move will save money in the long run.

The board, acting as the committee of the board, gave preliminary approval to the 1 percent hike Tuesday.  

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