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Will Millard district vote to keep tax levy override?

Posted at 7:54 PM, Feb 22, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Millard Public Schools is asking voters in its district to re-approve a tax levy override originally passed in 2017.

The levy override allows the district to tax up to nine cents per $100 of property valuation more than what state law allows without voter approval. The district's current total levy is $1.21 per $100 of property valuation.

The all-mail special election concludes on March 14. Ballots were sent to all registered voters on Tuesday. For Millard district residents in both Douglas and Sarpy Counties, the deadline to register to vote in the most accessible ways is Friday. Anyone who misses that deadline can still register to vote until March 3 in person at their county election office (Douglas or Sarpy).

The 2017 vote passed with 63% support.

Unlike a bond issue, which often comes up in growing school districts as a tool to fund new district expansion or special projects, a tax levy override is for operations.

"Unfortunately, without the levy override, we would be in a spot where substantial cuts are needed within our district," said Superintendent John Schwartz. "It would impact people and programs, which would mean larger class sizes, bigger caseloads. It would be harder to staff our schools and to compete to hire staff. And sadly, we would need to reevaluate programs and opportunities that exist for kids."

Schwartz said the district's board has been fiscally responsible, never taking more than half of the nine cents authorized by voters "because of the promise that was made to our community was we would only use what was needed to create stability financially for our district."

Millard's total levy is the second-lowest in the metro, the district says.

Millard real estate broker Alex Heyen said property taxes and schools often play a big role in where people choose to live. With three kids in the district, he supports the measure. He wants to see facilities keep up and teachers supported.

But he wonders if things might be different this time for the district.

"I think that people are really sensitive about how much things cost," he said. "I'll support it. But I do understand with rising gas and egg prices and everything else in the world that people are a lot more sensitive to prices than they generally are."

For a home valued at $350,000, an additional nine-cent levy equates to $350 each year. But Millard says they've never used more than 4.07 cents of the levy. That works out to $142 a year for the $350,000 valuation.

Schwartz said at the community events they've hosted they've received a positive response from the community.

Millard hosts more information on the levy here.

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