Wichita School District: Tax Rates Not Increasing, But Taxes Paid Are

According to the Wichita Eagle article School board plans no tax increase for coming year, USD 259, the Wichita public school district, does not “plan to raise property taxes” to pay for school operations next year.

Now if you read that and that alone, you might want to congratulate Wichita school officials for respecting the taxpayer.

But not so fast.

For one thing, the taxes that are under the control of USD 259 are increasing. The rate is not, but the amount collected is. That’s because property taxes increase each year as property is reappraised to a higher value, and as new property comes into existence. This increase can be high, too. From 2005 to 2006, the two most recent years I could find data at usd259.com, the total assessed value of property taxable by USD 259 increased from $2,314,710,733 to $2,428,891,164. That’s an increase of 4.9%, and even without an increase in the mill levy (the rate at which property is taxed), much more tax will be collected.

Then, it’s not like the school district’s appetite for tax increases is sated. Last August the board increase the mill levy by two mills. That brought the district to its statutory limit. It can’t increase the mill levy further without asking for voter approval. If not for that, we can be fairly sure that the board would pass another tax rate increase.

Finally, remember that this Wichita school board and its surrogates Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture and Citizens Alliance for Responsible Education are campaigning for the voters to approve a large tax increase in the form of the bond issue, which may or may not appear on a ballot soon.

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