The Edmond Sun

November 21, 2013

Moore Schools hopeful as ad valorem statements approach

Katherine Parker
CNHI News Service

MOORE — Moore Public School officials remain hopeful that the school system won’t suffer from a loss of property tax after the devastating May 2013 tornado. In fact, current figures suggest that Moore schools may benefit from a growth from last year to this year that will offset any property loss due to the tornadoes.

Property tax systems are based on the market value of real, personal and public service properties. All property in Oklahoma is taxable unless a federal or state law provides an exemption. Property taxes are the backbone of funding the local government and schools.

And, as with other schools in Cleveland County, Moore Public Schools counts on these property taxes to operate and secure bonds.

David Tinsley, Cleveland County assessor, said the total assessed value in the Moore School district that the ad valorem (or property tax) statements will be based on is $757 million which is 12 percent of the actual value. The assessed value of loss due to the tornado is $3,880,390, which equates to a market value loss of $32,336,583. However, according to Tinsley, there was growth in the Moore school system from last year to this year of a $118,431,575 actual value.

Robert Romines, Moore Public Schools superintendent, said property tax collections would finalize in mid-December and until then they would not have a hard-line figure, but that the school had been told in August that the school system had a 2.5 percent ad valorem growth. Such a percent would align with Tinsely’s current figures.

As such, Romines said the only adjustments the school system had made were those prior to the May tornadoes due to state funding concerns. Romines also said the Moore school system couldn’t be sure that they wouldn’t feel the loss of property further down the road.

“It will all depend of the rebuilding process. Some homes that were destroyed in the tornadoes are almost rebuilt already, and that could offset any loss of ad valorem,” Romines said. “Hopefully, we end up on the right side of things.”

If Moore schools do lose property tax money, Romines said he had not heard of any plans from the state or federal government for help.

“FEMA has been here all along and guiding us through the process. But FEMA’s help has been focused on insurance claims and won’t come into play until those claims are worked out,” Romines said.