Castle Rock, CO

Here's what an MLO and bond for schools would cost DougCo property owners

Suzie Glassman

By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) While the DougCo school board has yet to approve putting a mill levy override (MLO) and bond on the November ballot, all signs point to the fact that they will move forward with the measure when they meet in August.

Superintendent Erin Kane has spent much of the summer educating the community about the district's dire financial needs, and board members spoke in support of the proposal at community events.

Recent polling showed that 92% of voters believe "attracting and retaining quality teachers and staff by increasing district salaries to be more competitive with neighboring districts is extremely or very important.” And district leaders argue the only way to do so is through an MLO.

Yet, the thought of increasing taxes in a year when inflation is at an all-time high has even the most willing voters thinking twice.

But the need is so great that the Mill Bond Exploratory Committee encouraged the board to move forward despite dismal approval ratings from a recent poll. The exploratory committee said supporters could work to persuade the 20% of voters who said they were undecided on the proposal.

What would a $40/$60 million MLO cost the average DougCo taxpayer?

The district is considering asking for a $40 or $60 million mill levy override.

Should both a $60 million MLO and $450 million bond pass, it would cost homeowners $1/per week per $100,000 of property value.

Seniors over 65 who have occupied their home as their primary residence for more than ten years as of January 1 and veterans with a service-connected disability rated as a 100% permanent disability are eligible for a property tax exemption. That would let them pay less per year.

According to the DCSD website, a "$40 million MLO, translates to approximately $640 per student. An average charter school with 800 students would receive approximately $512,000 annually."

What is a mill levy override?

Schools receive per-pupil revenue from the state as part of what the School Finance Act calls the “Total Program.” The state sets a base amount and adds or takes away money per student based on the district’s cost of living, enrollment, at-risk students, online funding, and the budget stabilization factor.

Then, each school district is required to impose a property tax, called a mill levy, to fill its local share of the Total Program.

According to the School Finance Act, "one mill of tax is the same as one-tenth of one percent (.001). Therefore, on residential property with an actual value of $100,000 and, thus, an assessed valuation of $7,960, each mill of tax raises $7.96."

A mill levy override (MLO) asks voters to approve an increase in the number of mills they pay for property tax, up to 25% of the Total Program. DougCo’s current mill levies account for only 12%.

An MLO doesn't affect the district's total share of money from the state.

What would a bond cost DougCo taxpayers?

Bonds work differently than mill levies, and depending on how much the board puts on the ballot - $450 or $250 million – voters could potentially pay no more in taxes.

The lack of an increase is because bonds allow the district to borrow money for capital construction projects and building maintenance that the district then pays back over time.

As the balance from previous debt decreases, borrowing additional money can keep the district's payment the same or increase it slightly.

At this time, it's unclear what the total tax impact on DougCo residents would be with a bond issue.

According to Kane, $450 million is the district's minimum amount to build three new schools and maintain its current roster of buildings.

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