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Levy Part 2: What can district residents expect to pay if levy passes?

How much would the Morris Area School District's requested levy renewal and increase cost district residents?

The district School Board this summer approved putting a referendum on the Nov. 2 election ballot asking district residents for a $500 per student operating levy.

The $500 per student total comes from the renewal of a $302 per student levy that taxpayers approved almost 10 years ago, and an additional $198 per student to help the district maintain its budget at a time when state aid payments have stagnated or been delayed. The $302 per student levy expires after this year.

Because the district has several other levies that are decreasing for the next school year -- health and safety, unemployment, and debt service are three examples -- the net tax impact if the operating levy passes is projected to be an increase of $32.95 for a residence valued at $100,000.

The tax impact of the operating levy passing would result in a $58.66 increase for a residence valued at $100,000. However, the total net tax increase of $32.95 for a $100,000 residence is based on the operating levy passing (a tax increase) and other levies decreasing.

"It is worth mentioning that taxable market valuation is the assessor's valuation, not the selling price of the property," said Morris Area Superintendent Scott Monson. "It is also important to note that agricultural farmland is exempt from operating levies in that only the house, garage, and one acre are taxed."

Cabins or season recreational residential homes are also exempt.

Morris Area's current operating levy of $686.82 per student is lower than that of neighboring districts, which levy an average of more than $1,300 per student, Monson said.

"Our operating levy is one of the lowest in place when compared to neighboring districts," Monson said. "If the levy were to pass on Nov. 2, Morris' levy would increase to $885 per student. If this happens, we could potentially 'leapfrog' Wheaton yet remain slightly less than West Central Area. Our levy would still be over $400 less than our neighbors' average."

Wheaton is requesting to increase their operating levy to $1,575 per student, Monson said, and West Central is requesting to increase their operating levy $950 per student to $1,370.

If Morris' levy fails, the Morris Area district would be significantly below any of the operating levies currently in place in neighboring districts, Monson said.