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10/15 Guest Opinion: Tami Montague

Breaking down cost of Dallas school bond

There seems to be confusion among voters about facts related to the Dallas School District bond measure. Many patrons have also expressed concern about how recent economic developments will impact bond sales if the levy passes this November. I hope to clarify some points.

School districts in Oregon each have a permanent property tax rate to raise funds annually for operation. Dallas' permanent property tax rate is $4.56 per $1,000 of assessed value and raises 18 percent of our annual operating revenue. The rate does not change unless dictated by change in Oregon Statute.

The permanent operating rate does not provide an avenue for districts to raise money for capital improvements. Districts needing to add more space or make major repairs must get local voter approval of an additional taxing levy. The last time voters approved a bond levy for construction in the Dallas School District was in 1993.

The 1993 rate was authorized to rise to more than $3 per $1,000 of assessed value. However, our community, and our tax base, grew and the school board authorized a bond refunding at lower interest, shrinking the rate per $1,000 to $1.67.

To build a new high school, voters in the Dallas School District are being asked to approve an increase in the rate from $6.23 per $1,000 ($4.56 permanent operating rate plus $1.67 1993 bond rate) up to a total maximum rate of $8.65 per $1,000 (an increase of $2.42 for the new bond).

If approved, the district intends to structure the sale of bonds next spring so the rate remains stable for 25 years. If the bond market is unfavorable, the sale can be postponed to a time when it is more fiscally responsible. Until the bonds are sold, there is no debt service repayment required and as a result no increase in property taxes.

After the bonds sell, the bond rate will be $4.09 per $1,000 ($1.67 for 1993 bonds plus $2.42 for new bonds). $1.67 will go toward payoff of the 1993 bonds and $2.42 will go toward payment of the new bonds. We will continue to pay the $4.56 per $1,000 for the operating levy. In 2012, after the 1993 bonds are fully paid, all $4.09 per $1,000 of the bond rate will go toward payment of the new bonds. The total rate will not increase in 2012.

Property taxes are calculated on assessed, not market, value. A property assessed at the median level for Dallas School District, $120,000, will see an increase in taxes of approximately $290.40 per year ($24.20 per month).

We use the median $120,000 assessed property value as an example, but everyone's rate will differ. On the Dallas School District web site, www.dallas.k12.or.us, you can access a rate calculator provided by Seattle Northwest Securities to get an estimate of the impact the increase will have on you personally. If you prefer to calculate the cost manually, locate your assessed value on a recent tax statement, divide by $1,000, and multiply that by $2.42 to determine what your increase in taxes will be if the bond passes.

Please become informed about this measure and be a participant in this community decision by turning in your ballot.

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Tami Montague is the business manager/deputy clerk of the Dallas School District.

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