Guthrie schools possibly out over $400,000 next school year

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Guthrie Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson shared some “painful” news with school board members in their regular scheduled board meeting on Monday evening. Simpson says the school district could possibly be out over $400,000 next school year and over a million dollars in bonding capacity due to a recent tax reduction.

Guthrie SchoolsOn Dec. 31 Logan County Assessor Tisha Hampton announced Logan County property owners would pay significantly less in yearly ad valorem taxes. Hampton, who becomes the first County Assessor in Oklahoma to lower an assessment ratio since the state question was approved in 1996, lowered the real property tax from 12 percent to 11 percent and the personal property tax from 12 percent to 10 percent.

Hampton supplied an example: a resident of the Guthrie school district who owns a home valued at $150,000, and who claims homestead exemption, will experience a decrease from $1,297 to $1,183 ($114 difference).

Simpson says Logan County was at the assessment ratio for real and property tax of 12 percent for decades. The tax decreases began on Jan. 1 of this year and can only be increased through a county-wide vote.

The tax decrease affects the Guthrie, Coyle, Crescent and Mulhall school districts with less capital beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

Along with the public schools, county rural fire departments, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office, County Commissioners, Meridian Vo-Tech and Francis Tuttle will all also see financial cuts.

“These cuts, that we are going have to absorb, will be without changing our personnel. How does it look? We don’t know,” Simpson said, but added “we will look at every direction we can to keep it out of the classroom.”

Simpson, along with Asst. Supt. Dennis Schulz, utilized a school finance advisor from the state, a contract treasurer for school districts and two chief financial officers from other school districts to verify the accuracy of the estimated numbers for the next school year.

The final result for the Guthrie school district comes in at an estimated loss of $407,765 which will come out of the general fund property tax revenue ($349,864) and the building fund property tax revenue ($57,901).

“At the time, I did not have the understanding that it would affect our general fund and our building fund but it does,” Simpson added.

In addition, the bonding capacity is estimated to take a  reduction hit of $1,130,879 from $13,005,738 to $11,874,859.

“That changes greatly some of the things the Long Range Planning Committee has been considering. (It also) changes a lot of the financing options that we have to try and accomplish what we are trying to do,” Simpson said.

Simpson told board members that Hampton did not indicate and understand the tax decrease would affect the bonding capacity.

Superintendent learns about tax deduction through article

Simpson said he first learned of the possibility of the tax deduction last October and contacted Hampton about the issue. Simpson says he then asked Hampton to keep him aware of any possible action.

On Dec. 31 Simpson found out about the tax deduction through an article seen here on Guthrie News Page (Logan County property taxes set to fall by 8 percent). On that day, Simpson contacted Hampton requesting why he was not informed of the decision before hand.

Simpson states Hampton mailed a letter dated on Dec. 23 to the administration office. However, the school did not receive any mail from the dates of Dec. 20 to Jan. 6 because of the Christmas holiday.

According to Simpson, Hampton told him, by law, she was not required to send the letter, but did it as a favor to the school.

Logan County now below surrounding counties?

Hampton stated that at 11 percent on real property, the reduction brings Logan County’s real property assessment ratio in line with the neighboring counties of Oklahoma, Payne, Lincoln, Kingfisher and thirty-five other Oklahoma counties.

CourthouseSimpson says a part of him does not disagree with that goal, but says he could have embraced that goal if given the proper amount of time to prepare.

“These cuts are painful and the real challenges we have had is very little warning and very little announcement.”

Hampton made it a goal for Logan County residents to be on a more level playing field.

“It wasn’t right for Logan County residents to endure higher taxes than their neighbors in surrounding counties,” Hampton explained. “By lowering taxes, we do right for current residents and stop the policy of punishing those who choose to move to Logan County from neighboring counties.”

However, school officials say Logan County is now below each of the four surrounding counties when it comes to personal property assessment ratio of 10 percent (which was at 12 percent).

The school district said they took a look at the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s 2013 Equalization Study and it shows Oklahoma County at 13.75 percent, Lincoln County 12 percent, Payne County 11.40 percent and Kingfisher County at 11 percent.

The study goes on to say the state’s average personal property assessment ratio for all 77 counties is 11.91 percent.

Oklahoma law requires real property tax between 11 and 13. 5 percent and personal property tax between 10 and 15 percent.

County superintendents set to met with County Assessor

Simpson announced the Logan County superintendents will met with Hampton on Thursday.

Simpson’s goals?

“Better understand what considerations were made for the decisions and what financial studies were considered.”

8 Responses to "Guthrie schools possibly out over $400,000 next school year"

  1. St   January 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Here’s how it works MR. Simpson. Tisha lowers everybody’s property taxes by 2percent, this looks good, to the voters. Now every four years the assessor will come out to your property, he may even jump your fence, look in your windows, trespass what ever it takes to assess your property. It never goes down its always going up in valve most of the time the add 5 percent. So Mr. Simpson in four years you will have a increase of 3percent, and using your numbers that 1.2 million increase. So stop your crying and start doing your job manage your budget, look to the future, be smarter then the people around, educate your self on matters of this kind..

    Reply
    • krystle   January 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Your exactly right ST! Couldn’t of said it better myself.

      Reply
  2. luvnlife   January 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    The loss of $$$ wouldn’t seem so extreme if he hadn’t given ALL of the administrators raises this year.

    Reply
  3. Sherry   January 22, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Looking at the budget on the GPS website, I can now see where they are getting their $400k figure. There are 3 places in the 2013-14 budget where Ad Valorem Tax is a portion of the funding projections totaling $5,115,000. Thus their figure at 8% decrease on this total is a $409,200 decrease over what they expected to receive this budget year. Looking further, this is a net change from the 12-13 actual budget of ($190,359.46). Thus they were calculating a significant increase due to new construction and property value elevations that will be more than offset by the decrease in the tax rate. So even if they hadn’t given raises, they would still be short $190,359.46 over the funding from last year’s level. I agree that over a 3 -5 year period they will be back to even or ahead a few percent.

    However, I do not agree that Mr. Simpson’s problem is that he can’t manage the budget. It’s that he doesn’t have the budget required for our school system to provide proper education to the kids in this community. He has less than $8,000 per child (based on 3,000 students) in the total budget per year when the national average for public school education is $12,743 based on 2011-12 CPI (here is the link to my source http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=66 ). So we are asking him to educate our children with top notch educations and only giving him 2/3 of the budget it takes to do it. I think we better start thanking him for taking on this task instead of bashing him in a public forum…..

    Honey gets you a lot further than mug slinging!

    Reply
  4. FedUp   January 23, 2014 at 10:59 am

    You know if some of you idiots in Logan County would actually pass an Educational Bond to improve the schools some of these problems would not happen. The schools your kids are going to in Guthrie are falling apart. A majority of the budget is probably going to fixing all the little problems that the schools have with them. Teachers have to put posters of holes in the walls, holes in the floor, termites coming out of the walls every spring. Some of these schools have been around since the 50’s or longer.

    The biggest problem Guthrie has is it’s own people. There are about 5 people in the town that call the shots in that town, “A Good Old Boy” town. It is already the talk of the town that the Dr. Simpson, yest that is “Dr.”, disrepected a big shot in the town. So to pay him back he is going to get any bond issue shot down. Sherry, you have disrespected anybody that has gone to schoo, put in all that hard work to to be called “Dr.”

    All the school district wants is some help raising your children. Give them the things they need to do this. See that these schools are in excellent condition. See that they have the best teachers and the resources they need to teach your children. Don’t treat them like they are a bunch of baby sitters!

    And for Dr. Simpson. Pay your teachers what they deserve. Stop using the loop hole in the law to short them money. They are paid below the state minimum. You have a lot of great, amazing teachers that work for you. Treat them like you care about them.

    Reply
  5. Sherry   January 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I meant no disrespect in calling our superintendent Mr. Simpson. I do realize how much work goes into earning a Doctoral degree. I apologize if that offended Dr. Simpson or ‘Fedup’. But the truth is…. you and I were making the same point. We need to applaud Dr. Simpson and get him the money he needs to properly educate our children in a safe school environment!
    Did you read anything else in my post? Or my posts on the original story about the tax decrease? I’m all for a school bond being passed and our mileage rates being increased so that our children receive a better education in schools that don’t fall down on their heads.

    Reply
    • Fed Up   January 25, 2014 at 7:00 am

      I was referring to an incident between Dr. Simpson and some of the “Good Old Boys” in that town. I was not attacking your post other than the “Dr” thing. I just wish people in Guthrie and the rest of Logan County would realize the conditions the schools are in. Maybe we should just get someone out there to condemn them.

      Reply
  6. Pingback: New law makes county assessors more transparent when lowering assessment ratios | Guthrie News Page

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