If I vote to approve the issuance of new school bonds, how much will my property tax increase? Over the past few days, taxpayers in the Guthrie school district have emailed me with this question. They have received their absentee or sample ballot and have seen the Guthrie school district’s proposal to raise taxes by 20 mills. They want to know how much of an increase these new 20 mills will create.

The short answer is that if approved, the Guthrie proposal would result in a 26 percent property tax increase to many of the district’s property owners.

It is important for property owners to understand the math so they can calculate the impact for themselves instead of taking someone else’s word for it. So here’s the long answer:

A mill represents a dollar of taxation for every $1,000 of taxable value. Many residents of the Guthrie school district currently pay 76 mills of property taxation, or $76 for every $1,000 of taxable value.

A property’s taxable value is 11 percent of its assessed value thus the taxable value of a $200,000 home is $22,000. The value adjusts downward to $21,000 if the taxpayer claims his $1,000 homestead exemption.

If we remember that each mill represents one dollar of taxes for every $1,000 of taxable value, the homeowner can now calculate his tax by taking the number of mills, in this case 76, multiplied by 21 since the adjusted taxable value is $21,000. As you can see, the current tax bill on a $200,000 property is $1,596.

Now, let’s add in the new 20 mills which are being proposed by the Guthrie school district. Instead of multiplying 21 by 76, we will multiply 21 by 96 which totals $2,106 or a 26 percent increase over the current level.

If you like, you can skip the math by navigating to Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan’s tax calculator at www.oklahomacounty.org/assessor/taxcalculator.htm. Simply enter your property’s assessed value, the homestead exemption amount and the number of mills in the increase, 20 in this case, and the calculator will display the amount of the increase.

As an aside, Logan County residents can use this calculator because the Logan County assessment ratio of 11 percent is equal to Oklahoma County’s ratio, which is also 11 percent.

Until recently, properties in Logan County were taxed at a ratio of 12 percent until Logan County Assessor Tisha Hampton lowered the assessment ratio to 11 percent, which brings Logan County rates in line with those who live in Oklahoma County.

Some may ask why the percentage of increase isn’t reflected on the ballot language, which would be much simpler. The percentage cannot easily be reflected because there are variances across the district. For example, those who live in the Oak Cliff and Woodcrest fire districts pay an approximate 7 mill tax to those departments. The rest of the residents of the school district do not pay this tax. Thus, the percentage of increase for those within the fire districts is smaller because they pay a higher rate of taxation. The proposed new tax will increase their rate just over 100 mills, representing a 24 percent increase.

Some senior citizens may want to know if the increase will apply those who have obtained the “senior freeze” on their taxes. The answer is yes. Bond-issue related increases apply to these properties even though the assessment has been frozen.

From time to time, I also hear from those who want to know how the current mills are distributed. But I am out of writing room for this week so that’s a subject for another article.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov.

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