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.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one

    Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
    Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
    In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.

    July 26, 2014

  • MS_Andy Billups.jpg Local man relies on experience in July 4 emergency

    Andy Billups just happened to have gained experience as a combat zone firefighter/medic while he was serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq.
    The Edmond businessman just happened to have a friend with a place on Grand Lake where he has been viewing Independence Day fireworks for a number of years, and he just happened to be there July 4.
    And he just happened to be relaxing on a hammock when he heard a some kids making a commotion.
    Located two blocks east of Disney on State Highway 28 in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range in northeast Oklahoma, the 59,000-plus surface acre Grand Lake is known for its state parks, marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • -1.jpg 5-year-old learns valuable lessons

    It is never too soon to learn about giving and receiving. An Edmond 5-year-old recently learned about both.
    Kendall Kingry will be entering kindergarten at Will Rogers Elementary this fall and she is already looking forward to November.
    “I get to go to Disneyland in November,” Kendall said.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated

    When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
    “When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.

    July 25, 2014

  • OC welcomes missionary, military families

    For the ninth consecutive year Oklahoma Christian University will host missionary and military families returning to the United States at Global Reunion 2014.
    The July 23-27 camp has doubled in size in the last two years with 150 participants from 43 countries on campus.
    The camp is for children who are known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs) though parents are allowed to attend sessions as well. Directors Kent and Nancy Hartman, missionaries-in-residence at OC, give tools and resources to families that have lived outside the United States and are now seeking to reenter U.S. culture. The Hartmans spent more than 10 years as missionaries in Australia and were surprised by the challenges of reintegrating their family into America.

    July 25, 2014

  • Planning Commission approves rezoning

    The Edmond Planning Commission this week voted 4-0 in favor of rezoning from a single family district.  Peter and Kimberly Roberts made the request to allow a planned unit development on the southeast corner of Jackson and Lincoln Avenue, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
    “They would like to have D-2 family (neighborhood commercial) zoning for duplexes, 14,000 square feet,” Schiermeyer said. “They can put four units on the property.”

    July 25, 2014

  • Out of the stressful wreckage: Scholarships for car crash victims

    After the dust has settled, the injuries have healed and there’s a replacement car in the driveway, victims of automobile accidents often still face an uphill battle trying to move on with their lives. According to psychologists, for some the fear never really goes away. It’s common enough that the National Institutes of Health gives physicians specific recommendations for patients exhibiting acute stress symptoms and PTSD after motor vehicle accidents. With more than 3 million injury accidents a year nationwide, the San Francisco Bay Area personal injury law firm Appel Law Firm LLP, sees their share of the aftermath — only they decided to do something about it.

    July 25, 2014

  • Agencies ask for volunteers to support grandparents who raise grandchildren

    Local law enforcement agencies are helping Sunbeam Family Services provide much-needed school supplies to grandparents who are faced with the challenge of raising their grandchildren. According to a recent census poll, there are nearly three million grandparents raising more than five million grandchildren in the United States.

    July 25, 2014

  • 7-26 YARD OF THE WEEK.jpg Ganns earn Yard of the Week honors

    This week’s “Edmond Yard of the Week” winner has been in existence for 44 years at 105 Barbara Drive, but looks fresh and new thanks to longtime residents Betty and Gordon Gann as they fill their garden spaces to overflowing with colors and textures.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_2996.JPG Krazy Daze hits downtown Edmond

    Newly transplanted Edmond residents Hannah Brenning, Cheyenne Middle School 8th grader; Jordan Brenning, Cross Timbers 4th grader; and Sydney Brenning, North High School freshman; check out the items in front of Sterling's in downtown Edmond during the Krazy Daze Sale lasting through Saturday. Businesses will open their doors at 10 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Poll

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
Undecided
     View Results