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Election 2022: Three Forks Schools Mill Levy FAQ

 

April 13, 2022



Why does the district need a general fund mill levy when the community just passed a bond?

Bonds are used to finance building projects, construction, or real estate purchases.  Mill levies are for operational costs.  Expenditures from each are limited to a specific scope and language.  The recent bond passed for the TFS building project has specific language that limits the expenditure of funds to identified construction projects only.   The mill levy is specifically for operational costs that inevitably increase as a result of the additional 30,000 square feet of space with related staffing, custodial, maintenance, and utility expenses. 

Why did the district recently purchase a new TFS activity bus rather than use that money to increase teacher's salaries?

The TFS activity bus was purchased with the Bus Depreciation Fund - by law, this fund can ONLY be used to purchase buses and make safety improvements to buses.  This fund receives revenue from the depreciation of existing buses.  The only way to generate revenue to this account, is to purchase a bus.  This fund CANNOT be used for salaries - not even for bus driver salaries. 

How do I know if our tax dollars are being managed wisely?

The TFS presents all claims in public forums twice monthly.  Claims are reviewed and approved by administration and by the Board of Trustees.  Additionally, an independent audit is performed each year and the findings are shared in a public meeting.  The TFS most recent audit report had "no findings of concern or misuse." 

What will the Mill Levy be used for?

The funds from this Mill Levy will be used to provide an increase in staff salaries, fund new staffing positions created by the building bond project and replace and repair equipment.  With the addition of approximately 30,000 square feet, there will be increased operational costs including rising costs of health insurance, property liability insurance, utilities, technology, maintenance and salaries.

How much can the district ask for?

The Three Forks School District is permitted to levy up to $464,724 in the elementary district to reach the maximum state allowed budget and $294,341 for the high school district, for a total of $759,065.  The TFS District is requesting a total of $640,000 with the Board's recommendation.   

Who determines if there is a mill levy?

The TFS Administration presented three options and the Board approved a mill levy for both the elementary and for the high school. Registered voters will choose whether to approve or deny this recommendation when it appears on the May ballot.

What are the Staff Recruitment and Retention Statistics?

An average number of applicants for a teaching position typically ranged 20-40 applicants in past years.  Currently, the district is receiving 0-6 applicants on average per posting.

How will this affect my taxes?

This levy will increase property taxes in the following ways: approximately $64.15 a year for a $100,000 home, $128.29 a year for a $200,000 home and $192.44 a year for a $300,000 home. This amounts to $5.35, $10.69 and $16.04 a month, respectively.  As the tax base increases with time, the burden on individual taxpayers is reduced.

How does Three Forks Schools compare to other districts regarding mills?

The district compared mill levy taxes in the Three Forks School District to other nearby districts. This comparison showed that Three Forks' has average taxes; meanwhile, Belgrade and Manhattan claim the top two most expensive spots.

 

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