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Online tax calculator available for Menahga building bond referendum

This comparative chart for Menahga and neighboring school districts shows the total levy per pupil for taxes payable in 2016 (the most recent data that is available for all school districts at this time). (Source: Ehler's & Associates, Inc.)1 / 2
The estimated tax impact includes principal and interest payments on the new bonds. Tax increases shown here are gross increases, not including the impact of the state Homeowner's Homestead Credit Refund program which decrease the net effect of the proposed bond issue for many property owners. For agricultural homestead property, a value of $100,000 was assumed for the house, garage and one acre.2 / 2

Compared to neighboring school districts, Menahga residents have the second smallest school tax levy per pupil.

Sebeka, in fact, pays the least taxes, based on payable 2016 data. Their total tax levy per Average Daily Membership is $898, while the Menahga School District's is $1,100.

The statewide average is $3,077.

Of the school districts within a 50-mile radius, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley has the highest total tax levy per pupil at $3,605.

The group average is $2,332. This includes Sebeka, Menahga, Staples-Motley, New York Mills, Nevis, Pine River-Backus, Frazee-Vergas, Park Rapids and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

According to Ehlers and Associates, Inc., the school's financial advisor, Menahga residents do not pay the highest overall taxes in the state or Wadena County.

"Assuming they are referring to their total tax bill (county, city, school, and special taxing district taxes), we can say with absolute certainty that they do not pay the highest in the state," said Jodie Zesbaugh, Ehlers senior municipal advisor. "As to whether they pay the highest in the county, homeowners in Sebeka have higher taxes than residents of Menahga due in large part to a high city tax rate. The rates for all taxing jurisdictions in Wadena County can be found on the auditor/treasurer's web page under 'important documents.' It is also worth noting that the Menahga School District is located in four different counties — Wadena, Becker, Hubbard and Otter Tail. The total tax bill that ISD 821 residents will vary depending on which county and city/township they live in."

Building bond referendum

A tax calculator for the proposed building bond is up and running on Menahga School's website, under "Building Referendum," then "Property Tax Info."

This site provides information for taxpayers of Menahga School District regarding how the district's proposed bond referendum will affect property taxes. The site was prepared by the school district's financial advisors, Ehlers, in cooperation with the school district.

There will be two questions on the mail ballot.

The first question asks voters to approve general obligation bonds up to $29,720,000, for a two-story high school addition with a stage/gymnasium, classrooms, tech ed shops and new kitchen, plus an elementary school addition for preschool, Head Start and kindergarten classrooms.

If Question 1 is approved, the district will prepay the 2010 and 2012 lease purchase agreements, totaling $1,703,644, which are 100 percent locally taxed. This will reduce the tax impact to property owners by 21 percent and also save the district $255,075 in interest.

Approval of the ballot questions would cause a tax increase beginning in 2018, and the debt service tax levies would be in place for 20 years.

If question 1 is approved, the second question asks voters to approve a $5 million bond, a major portion of which would pay for stormwater management, some fixtures and relocating part of the road in conjunction with the building project. About $1.5 million of the second bond will be used to purchase necessary equipment for robotics, milling, welding and medical office tech labs at Menahga High School. The installation of equipment would meet the standards for course credit by Central Lakes Community College. This levy would have zero local tax impact because the district will under-levy in another area unequalized by state aid.

To determine the estimated impact of the proposed ballot question on 2018 taxes, either view the tax impact for sample property types and values or follow the tax calculator instructions on the district's website.