The Edmond Sun

Local News

January 27, 2014

Local school districts take hit as Logan County lowers property taxes

EDMOND — Logan County Assessor Tisha Hampton who took office in 2011 recently lowered the Logan County property tax from 12 percent to 11 percent. With the reduction of the property tax, residents will see an 8 percent reduction in the base property tax beginning Jan. 1.

Logan County includes not only the Guthrie School District but also Edmond and Deer Creek school districts as well as some smaller districts in the county. The district hit the hardest with the lowering of ad valorem taxes will be the Guthrie School District.

Although Guthrie residents will see a yearly savings, the Guthrie superintendent says the lowering of the tax puts the building of an elementary school and replacement of another off the planning board because the bondability of the district is now too low to cover the cost of construction of the schools.

“We project we will be losing $407,000 in our general and building funds,” said Superintendent Mike Simpson. “It also reduces our bonding capacity from $13 million to $11.8 million. That is the maximum we can bond for based on total net evaluation.”

Simpson said the loss in revenue will not be offset by state funds and the district will have to absorb the loss.

“The notion that the increased ad valorem will offset the loss is not true of our district,” Simpson said. “Growth is 100 percent chargeable because of state aid. Generally it works out to a one-for-one chargeable.”

Simpson added Guthrie School District’s budget runs about $23 million, and although it looks like a small percentage, 87 percent of the district’s income is tied up in personnel and related expenses.

“The decrease will affect the hiring of personnel in our district,” Simpson said. “Guthrie pays the lowest percentage of its budget for personnel than any district I have worked in.

“The 13 percent left is fixed costs including electricity, natural gas and gasoline for the buses.”

The district has no sinking fund because it does not have any outstanding bonds. “Our last bond was passed in 2006,” Simpson added.

In his second year as Guthrie’s superintendent, Simpson said a committee of community members has been prioritizing needs.

“We need to build a new elementary and replace an existing one,” Simpson said. “We have hired an architect and have formed a bond council. “What we have prepared for in the last 10 months is not going to come to pass. We planned our needs based on a $13 million bond and any less will not cover what we need.”

What it means financially for Guthrie residents living in the Guthrie School District is a savings of about $125 a year. For homeowners living in a house valued at $150,000, who claim homestead exemption, they will see a decrease from $1,297 to $1,183 a year.

For districts already financially strapped, the property tax reduction will affect the general and building funds in the three largest districts to a tune of more than $724,000.

The Logan County assessor’s tax break will cost Edmond schools more than $200,000, said Lori Smith, Edmond’s chief financial officer.

“We will see a loss of $255,224 in our general fund and building fund,” Smith said. “This is a loss in revenue for the district, but hopefully growth in property valuation will serve to offset the loss of funds.”

Operating funds come from general fund taxes and state aid.

“My first notice was Dec. 23 when we were out of school,” said Deer Creek Superintendent Ranet Tippens. Deer Creek did not return to school until Jan. 8.

“Everyone in Logan County will experience about a 1/2 mill increase to pay off existing bonds. While the value of the house will be lower, the actual tax rate went up.”

Deer Creek will lose $74,704 in General funds, which equates to the employment of two teachers, and Deer Creek will lose $10,672 in their building fund, Tippens said.   

“This will only increase the problems of rising class sizes and increasing deferred maintenance,” Tippens said.

She went on to say studies also show a clear correlation between student test scores and state per pupil funding.

“Tulsa’s news channel 6 just ran a story on K-12 achievement and Oklahoma ranked 8th lowest in the nation in per pupil funding,” Tippens said. “Other reports rank Oklahoma in the bottom three in per pupil funding.

“Now the Logan County Assessor (without consulting a single educator or other entities that would be affected) has single handedly reduced that even further.   

“In saving each tax payer a few dollars, children who have no voice lost.”

Logan County also includes school districts in Crescent, Coyle, Mulhall and Orlando.

At 11 percent, the reduction brings Logan County’s real property assessment ratio in line with the neighboring counties including the surrounding counties of Payne, Lincoln, Kingfisher and 35 other Oklahoma counties, Hampton said.

“It wasn’t right for Logan County residents to pay more for exactly the same service for which their neighbors across the county line paid less,” Hampton said. “By lowering taxes, we do right for current residents and stop the policy of punishing those who choose to move to Logan County from neighboring counties.”

In 1996 Oklahoma voters approved State Question 675. This initiative put a cap of 13.5 percent and a floor of 11 percent on the taxable percentage of property. This effectively froze Logan County’s assessment at its then-current ratio of 12 percent.

Earlier this year, Hampton determined that subject to the guidelines of SQ 675, she had the authority to lower the rate to 11 percent.  

“I spoke to Guthrie Superintendent Mike Simpson prior to my decision,” Hampton said. “To this day, neither he or any other government official has expressed opposition to the plan. I held a meeting with numerous local government officials and I asked them if any of them opposed the reduction. Not a single one of them said that they did.”

Supt. Simpson said that he first spoke with Hampton about the tax break on Oct. 31.

“I asked her to keep us in the loop because it would affect the school district,”  Simpson said. “The next time I heard anything about it was when I received two letters on Jan. 6, after returning from the break.”

 Simpson said the first letter postmarked Dec. 23 told of the consideration for lowering the tax rate and the second letter was a press release dated Dec. 31 telling the tax rate had been lowered.

Both letters were received while the school district’s office were closed.

“Her rationale was to equalize taxes in surrounding counties,”  Simpson said. “My objection was in not allowing us to prepare.”

Simpson said after receiving the press release sent Dec. 31, he asked Hampton if any considerations were made for bonding capacity and she said no.

“I offered our assistant superintendent to work with her on the numbers, and I told her I would gladly lend her his expertise but it (the tax) was already lowered.”

Hampton said she became aware of both the discrepancy and her ability to lower the rate through interactions with state tax officials.

Hampton becomes the first County Assessor in Oklahoma to lower an assessment ratio since the state question was approved in 1996. Once lowered, the rate may only be increased through a vote of the people.

Taxpayers will notice the new lower rates on tax assessments to be issued later this spring.

Text Only
Local News
  • north 1.jpg U.S. News ranks city high schools in state’s Top 10

    All three Edmond high schools are ranked among the Top 10 in the state in a prestigious national list.
    U.S. News & World Report, which publishes annual rankings, ranked Edmond North No. 3 in Oklahoma and No. 437 nationwide. Memorial ranked No. 6 in Oklahoma and No. 847 nationwide. Santa Fe ranked No. 8 in Oklahoma and No. 1,075 nationwide.
    “This recognition serves as validation for our students, parents and staff members at all levels who work together relentlessly in pursuit of academic excellence, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent David Goin said.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • OC expands to 5 academic colleges

    Oklahoma Christian University will expand from three to five colleges beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.
    OC’s five academic colleges will be the College of Biblical Studies, the College of Business Administration, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Natural and Health Sciences.
    “Our academic and leadership teams have been planning, praying and discussing how to build on OC’s legacy of exceptional success in science, engineering and business,” said Scott LaMascus, vice president for academic affairs. “Our new colleges will focus on growth in these areas and implement strategic planning to help us serve more students.”

    April 23, 2014

  • N Front Door 3.jpg FBI seeks suspect in robbery of local bank

    Police and FBI agents are investigating the robbery of a local bank by a suspect wearing a fake mustache and goatee, a spokesman said.
    FBI Special Agent Martinus McConnell said the robbery occurred Tuesday morning at the Arvest Bank, 2025 Sonoma Park, Edmond.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ekso 1.jpg Deer Creek students see bionic suit in action

    In 2010, a car accident left Guthrie resident Mary Beth Davis paralyzed from the waist down.
    In a few weeks, thanks to INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation, determination and an Ekso Bionics suit, she will be walking across a stage to receive a college diploma from Oklahoma State University.
    Wednesday afternoon, Davis was at Deer Creek Middle School where students of teacher Jamie Brehm got to see Davis and the suit in action and learn about how it helps people live a fuller life.
    Brehm said the opportunity to have the demonstration fit perfectly with the testing schedule. Brehm said a bonus was having Davis with her inspirational story come to the school. In addition to graduating soon, Davis lives an independent life and she was recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • clock edit.jpg Antique clock collection on display at Edmond Library

    In a world that’s often hurried and brief, the Sooner Time Collectors have nothing but time. Oklahoma chapter members of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors have provided antique pieces from personal collections to display at the Edmond Library until the end of April.
    Since the 1950s, Sooner Time Collectors have gathered to learn about the inner workings of clocks and to admire one-of-a-kind finds. Of interest to the community is their involvement with repairs for the Cowboy Hall of Fame clock and the UCO tower. They now have 35 members who meet monthly as a chapter of the 16,000-member NAWCC community across America and the world.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Be on the lookout for termites

    Warming temperatures and spring rainfall means swarming conditions for the homeowners’ nemesis in Oklahoma — the termite.
    Termites are Mother Nature’s way of recycling dead wood, as well as aerating the soil and increasing its fertility and water percolation. They are an important food source for other insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians and birds within the food web, and they are essential for the wellbeing of the environment.

    April 23, 2014

  • Betz handprint.jpg Central students organize ‘Take Back the Night’ to end sexual violence

    The University of Central Oklahoma’s National Organization for Women (UCO-NOW), Institute of Hope and the Violence Prevention Project will host a Take Back the Night (TBTN) march and rally to end violence, beginning 7 p.m. May 1 in Pegasus Theater in Central’s Liberal Arts building.
    TBTN events date back to the early 1970s and focus on eliminating sexual violence in all forms. Thousands of colleges, universities, women’s centers and rape crisis centers have sponsored TBTN marches throughout the country.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • suspect 1 Police investigate more home burglaries in Edmond

    Residents have reported an additional seven home burglaries to the Edmond Police Department the day after an equal number occurred, according to city records.
    Police spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said a detective is investigating the new incidents reported during the day on Tuesday. Monroe said similarities in them lead the agency to believe they are connected.
    Tuesday’s reported burglaries occurred in different areas including near the Covell-Coltrane intersection and south of 15th Street along Santa Fe. According to city records, they were reported at:

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • earth day 7.jpg Central community learns about water conservation

    Edmond residents know about rain that falls from their roofs after a storm. Some may not know what kind of important role it plays in the nation’s water supply.
    Tim Tillman, the University of Central Oklahoma’s sustainability coordinator, said UCO has a tradition of innovation in sustainable practices. Tillman said Earth Day, first brought to the campus more than 20 years ago, began that tradition.
    During Tuesday’s Earth Day Fair, Jason Summers, a Coca-Cola account manager for on-premise sales, was giving away rain barrels and educating members of the Central Oklahoma community about the benefits of rain barrels.

    April 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • pic 2.JPG Energy secretary touts CNG fleet conversion

    Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague said the state is leading the way in converting its fleet of vehicles to run on compressed natural gas.
    And, he adds, the state is working to get federal officials engaged in moving its fleet of vehicles in Oklahoma to use CNG.
    Teague made those statements Tuesday during a visit to Champion CNG, 13915 N. Harvey Ave. in Edmond. The visit also coincided with Earth Day.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Michael Strahan's First Day on "GMA" Amazon's Deal With HBO Leapfrogs Streaming Rivals Stephen Colbert Tells David Letterman His Plan for 'Late Show' Georgetown police officer filmed tripping students Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Recycling Highlights for Earth Day Lupita Nyong'o Named People's 'Most Beautiful' Peeps Launched into Outer Space NYPD's Twitter Request For Photos Backfires New HBO Go Commercials Capture Awkward Family TV Watching Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Rise of the Milkbots Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results