Property Taxes: Truths & Myths
Douglas County homeowners recently received notice that their property taxes are increasing - in some cases, quite dramatically.
So how much additional funding will the Douglas County School District (DCSD) receive from this increase in taxes?
While the increased revenue will benefit many local government and community services, you may be surprised to learn it will not increase funding for our local schools.
While the district will collect more money in local property taxes, the district will not benefit from the increase. Our total program funding is determined by the School Finance Act and is paid for by a combination of property taxes ("local share") and the state's general fund ("state share"). When the local share goes up, the state share goes down proportionally.
An increase in local property taxes has a $0 impact on total program funding - it just changes the balance of who is paying the bill.
Douglas County teachers can drive to one of our neighboring school districts and earn a more desirable salary. For example, Cherry Creek School District’s average teacher salary is more than $19,000 higher than Douglas County’s. With the cost of living in our area, many Douglas County teachers are unable to live in the communities where they work. That’s because DCSD’s starting teacher pay is just over $45,000.
So how does a district like Cherry Creek or Littleton pay their teachers more competitively? The only way to increase funding outside of the School Finance Act is through a Mill Levy Override, or MLO. Other school districts have been successful for years in passing MLO ballot measures. Because of this, DCSD now receives $2,000 less per student than Cherry Creek School District and Littleton Public Schools – which equals a gap of $130 million per year.
This has led to significant pay discrepancies for DCSD teachers, with those gaps growing each time an MLO is passed in a neighboring school district.
Are administrative costs to blame? Not in DCSD. The Douglas County School District has the lowest general administration costs in the metro area.
Around 85% of DCSD’s annual revenue is spent on people - salaries, benefits, and PERA contributions. General administration accounts for just 0.6% of DCSD’s Total Operational Spending.
With a $66 million Mill Levy Override, DCSD would:
- Make staff pay more competitive, in order to keep valued teachers and staff in the school district
- Increase and maintain safety and security, with additional support such as School Resource Officers, or SROs
Providing safe and effective learning environments is so important for student and staff well-being. With a $484 million Bond, DCSD would:
- Invest in school safety and security upgrades to buildings (such as hardening of school buildings)
- Provide additional Career and Technical Education opportunities for students (such as increasing the number of automotive and other CTE pathway courses)
- Update, maintain and construct educational facilities to ensure safe and adequate learning spaces and reduce overcrowding
What would this cost you? A Douglas County taxpayer would expect to pay $20 per year per $100,000 of home value. So, for a million dollar home, the total increase of both measures combined would be $200 per year.
The DCSD Board of Education will make a final determination of whether to place these measures on the November ballot soon.