What is a Mill Levy Override?
A voter approved Mill Levy Override (MLO) adds mills to a property tax bill. Mills are the factor applied to assessed property value (not actual or market value), and together they determine total property tax cost.
Depending on where you live, property tax collection may be allocated to your county, city/town, your water district and/or your school district. A school district MLO provides additional operating money exclusively for the school district. These additional funds collected within the district are not sent to Denver to be reallocated among Colorado school districts, funds stay in WPS schools.
As per state law, school districts cannot collect locally (via a MLO) more than 25% of total program funding.
- WPS currently collects 11.374 mills which equates to 8% from the 2002 voter approved MLO.
- If the 2018 MLO passes, WPS will be at 18%.
- In comparison, the Boulder Valley School District, has maxed out local MLO funding at 25% and their current mill levy override exceeds WPS by $63 million.
How much will the General Fund levies cost a property owner?
The proposed General Fund levies are estimated to cost a homeowner approximately $8.61 per month, or $103.32 per year, on a home valued at $100,000. The district’s taxable valuation has more than doubled over the past ten years. If the district’s taxable valuation continues to grow, that amount levied on individual taxpayers will likely decrease. For more information on the district’s taxable valuation click here.
Please note: This is a conservative estimate of the tax impact. The calculations will change annually due to new property and the ongoing property re-appraisal process by the State.
Does a Mill Levy Override (MLO) impact business owners differently than homeowners?
Yes, business owners are assessed on their actual value at 29%. If approved,s on a $100,000 of assessed valuation 14.35 mills is 29,000 x .01435 = $416.15 or $34.68 per month.
How is a mill levy different from a bond?
Money from a Mill Levy Override (MLO) are used for operating expenses such as teacher pay, rigorous instructional programs, in-classroom technology and other high-priority operating expenses. MLO funds are not restricted in their use, but generally are not used to pay for major repairs and renovations to existing school buildings, additions to schools or new school buildings.
Bonds provide money for major repairs and renovations to existing school buildings, additions to schools and new school buildings. The State of Colorado does not provide funds for these building projects. Bond dollars also cannot be used for operating expenses.
Has WPS ever passed a Mill Levy Override?
Yes, in November 2002 WPS passed its first ever Mill Levy Override (MLO). Since then, Colorado has cut $90 million from the WPS budget.
Prior to 2017-18 per pupil funding was lower than it was in 2008-09. If the MLO is passed, the district's per pupil spending will increase by $73 per student.
Is the requested MLO budget creep?
No. WPS has lost $90 million in state funding since the 2009-10 fiscal year, and enrollment has been declining mainly due to the cost of living in the Denver metro area. To compensate for the cuts, the district has made $5.2 million in permanent cuts in areas of increasing classroom size, salary and department budgets.
While WPS teacher compensation is one of the best in the state, we want to keep that top ranking. This year, $5 million in reserve funds are expected to be used to balance the WPS budget.
Will the requested amount for the MLO just get us caught up or will it move us ahead?
In combination with other cost cutting measures, the $9.8 million MLO would allow the district to:
- recruit and retain qualified teachers and staff
- maintain class sizes
- maintain instructional technology and rigorous programming
- expand current vocational and career programs
- update current operations and repairs on buildings
District leadership and board members are confident that it will be possible to maintain the investments in new programs made with these additional funds.
When will the funds for an MLO be collected?
Funds for the first year will be collected as part of the 2018 property taxes payable in 2019. A total of 97% of the money for this first year will be collected by June 2019. The current initiative does not have a sunset clause, which means there is no identified end date to the MLO.
If the MLO passes, will it sunset at some point?
No, there is no sunset on the MLO because a significant portion of money is earmarked for ongoing costs. If the state does not resolve structural budget problems, a sunset would create a financial cliff that would require a pay and program cuts at the time of the sunset.
If the state does figure out budget, the school board has the option to reduce the local MLO. Passing a mill levy override sets the maximum tax rate not the minimum.
Is there tax relief available for senior citizens or veterans if the MLO passes?
Yes. Currently, there are two types of property tax exemptions available certain residents of Adams County. These include the Colorado Senior Property Tax and the Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption. More information is available at adcogov.org/property-tax-exemption.
Senior Property Tax Exemption:
- There is a property tax exemption, called the Homestead Act, now in effect for qualifying senior citizens, surviving spouses of senior citizens who previously qualified, and disabled veterans. Homeowners 65 years and older who have been in their primary residence for 10 or more years and disabled veterans can apply to their county’s tax assessor for this relief. For those who qualify, 50% of the first $200,000 in actual value of their home is exempt from taxation, up to a maximum of $100,000.
Can 501(c)3 organizations participate?
Please refer to the IRS website to find information about your particular type of organization. While doing your research keep in mind that supporting a non-partisan mill levy override is NOT the same as supporting a candidate for public office.