Blackhawk Tech Board increases levy while tax rate decreases | Education

The Blackhawk Technical College district board on Wednesday approved a $16.07 million tax levy for 2020-21, an increase of 3%.

The amount was approved unanimously by the board and will cost taxpayers $108 per $100,000 in equalized value for 2020-21, down from about $111 per $100,000 in equalized value last year. The tax rate has decreased each year for the last four years while the levy has gone up in six straight years.

The rate decrease is possible despite an increased levy because the college is retiring debt faster than it is accumulating costs.

The $108 tax rate represents the amount needed to retire debt plus the amount the college can raise based on the district’s property value and new construction in the college’s district. Paying off debt would account for just under $57 of the $108 rate paid. Operational costs would account for just under $52.

Property value within the district grew by 5.7% this year to $14.8 million. The increase is more than double the 2% increase the college was expecting, something Vice President of Administrative Operations Renae Ranguette called a welcome surprise.

“What it means is there has been growth and value added in the district, part of it due to net new construction and part of it due to this rise in values of property. It’s all positive news,” she said.

The figures in the 2020-21 budget will not change after voters decide on the college’s referendum next month. The tax impact of the referendum would come in subsequent years.

The referendum would cost a taxpayer an additional $3 per $100,000 in equalized value in years one and two, an additional $2 in year three, and an additional $1 in year four. The rate would return to normal levels in year five.

Original estimates for the referendum released by the college used the 2020-21 rate of $59 toward debt payment for every $100,000 of equalized value. Because that cost is reduced to $57 under the approved budget, taxpayers will forfeit less money overall if the referendum is passed.

The estimates showed the referendum would bump the number to $62 going toward debt repayment in the first year and stay at $62 in the second year before dropping to $61 in the third year and $60 in the fourth year.

Under the new budget those figures will be:

  • $60 in years one and two.
  • $59 in year three.
  • $58 in year four.
  • $57 in year five.

Money garnered from the recent sale of the college’s transportation studies building would go toward referendum costs if the measure passes, likely reducing the property tax increases, but officials were unsure of the amount of the reduction earlier this month.

The sale of the building is contingent on a successful referendum.

COVID-19 update

No cases have originated from campus, college President Tracy Pierner said, but contact tracing has ratcheted up for the college.

There were 80 coronavirus investigations in September, and the college has already surpassed that number in October, he said.

About a dozen coronavirus investigations take place each day. Investigators contact trace campus activity and make decisions on whether a person should stay home or continue coming to campus.

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