As Decatur’s Tax Digest Swells, CSD Looks to Lower Millage Rate

An interesting development in the evolution of Decatur’s ongoing property tax saga.

While the City held the millage rate steady for the coming fiscal year, Decaturish reported yesterday that the Decatur School Board voted to lower their millage rate from 20.9 to 20.5 mills.

Still the school system plans to conclude the school year with a $1.5 million surplus thanks to an estimated 12.75% increase in Decatur’s tax digest, due in part to rising property assessments – another recent discussion here.

Decaturish reported that the school board estimated that the lower millage would cost the system more than $500,000.

CSD plans to hold hearings on the new millage rate on June 19th and July 8th.

8 thoughts on “As Decatur’s Tax Digest Swells, CSD Looks to Lower Millage Rate”

  1. I’m not sure why, but the phrase “cost the system” makes me squirmy. Like, it carries the implication that it was guaranteed money — “in the bag,” so to speak — and was snatched away. I prefer to think of the funds cities and schools systems extract from their citizens as something constantly in play, subject to an ongoing conversation over ever-evoloving concerns and priorities.

    Quibbling, I know, but the subtleties of language are usually peepholes into broader beliefs and expectations.

    1. meanwhile, i was struck by, the “Board voted to lower their millage rate” which flies in the face of the prevailing wisdom that government entities rarely to never surrender gained revenue.

    2. Not quibbling, I had the exact same response. The question is whether CSD used that term or if that is Decaturish or DM paraphrasing.

      1. That phrasing is now common in tax/spending matters at all levels of government. At its core is the assumption that the money isn’t really yours — you are merely permitted to keep whatever the taxing authorities deign to allow.

  2. The system would be able to lower the millage rate even further if renovations in CoD were correctly reported to appraisers. As thinga stand homes with modeat means are paying more than their shate of taxes. It’s becoming a regressive tax!

  3. Why is an increase of this size acceptable to our commissioners?

    What do you think the maximum annual percentage increase in city revenue should be?

    For me, I find it hard to imagine why our outlays should increase more than a few percentage points per year.

    I guess I’m not hearing what is driving the need for such increases? Can someone point me to it?

    1. You mean the 12.75% increase noted? That’s not an increase in the tax rate, that’s an increase in the tax digest, or the total net assessed value of all property, which the city/schools don’t really control. The reason that increase looks so large is probably due to conservative budgeting on expected revenue. Would you rather CSD be -12.75% from the digest? From a public entity perspective, the large surplus is a good problem to have because it gives you flexibility in setting your rates and some breathing room in the budget.

      The trend should continue once the developments on Ponce, Commerce, and Trinity are completed. And it’s why CDS is voting to lower their tax rate and why CoD is voting to keep theirs level. Hopefully a continued, modest rise in property values (and more commercial) will allow CSD and CoD to keep lowering their respective tax rates.

      But I’d much rather they conservatively estimate revenues and have happy surpluses than aggressively expect digest growth and fall short.

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