Community

Trego School Enrollment Grows- Also, Taxes

The last school board meeting had the announcement of 3 more students this semester. That’s an increase from 23 students to 26, or a 13% increase in enrollment since Fall. School enrollment remains something to be watched closely, given the previous trend.

Trego school’s enrollment graph from previous article

The increased enrollment fit with reading the Budget Amendment Resolution

the trustees have determined that an amendment to the state elementary fund budget in the amount of $25,584.05 is necessary . . . for the purpose of properly maintaining and supporting the district due to an increase in enrollment that was beyond what could reasonably have been anticipated at the time of the adoption of the budget for the current school fiscal year; and the anticipated source of financing the budget amendment expenditures shall be additional state assistance through direct state aid.”

The second financial decision was to direct the clerk to establish a permissive levy for a building reserve fund.  The basis for the building reserve fund shared with the board members was:

Permissive levy in Sub Fund 613 which includes:

1. State Major Maintenance Aid (SMMA)
SMMA amount is $15,000 + $100xprior year ANB (22) = $17,200


2. Permissive Levy which can’t exceed 10.000 mills per fiscal year (a mill is 1/1000 of taxable value (TV/1000) Taxable valuation for the district in 2021 is $1,932,429. 1,932,429/1000 = $1931 mill x 10 = $19,310
Tax impact on property: levied mills x property’s taxable value/1000
Districts must first levy 10 mills and then can budget non-levy revenues or legal transfers (some restrictions apply)  Need to look into if we can transfer from a non budgeted fund (15) to building reserve.


3. The projects must be listed and the priority for projects are listed on the Facility Condition Report under their deficiency categories. Those need addressed first. “

A few translations: The state is willing to give aid that can be used for maintenance. The amount will be $15,000 plus the prior year’s enrollment (22) multiplied by $100. Thus, $15,000 + $2,200 = $17,200 that can be expected from the state.

Permissive levy- this is a levy that does not require a vote by the public. In this instance, MCA 20-9-502 allows a school board to impose no more than a 10 mill level per fiscal year to go towards the building reserve. The school expects to get $19,310 out of this.

What this actually means for your taxes? School district 53’s market value is assessed at $114,462,957. The taxable property value is set at $1,932,429 – a little less than 2% of the market value. Consequently, the math is 10 x taxable value/1000 – if your taxable value is $1000, the additional tax will be $10, if your taxable value is $10,000, the additional tax will be $100, and so on.

Lastly, anything they use that money for has to be on the Facility Condition Inventory and has to be addressed in order of priority. The Facility Condition Inventory comes via state inspection, so what to fix and in what order isn’t determined by anyone local. The most current Facility Condition Inventory that was available is dated 1/24/2008 – so it appears to be high time to look at getting some maintenance done.

Community, Demography

Do you get all the Government you pay for?

Lincoln County offers opportunities to extract data in ways the folks who run things haven’t planned.  For example, we have three county commissioners, elected at large, and representing the areas roughly in the county’s three high school districts.

Census data can be extracted by school district – so we know the population of each high school district.  We’re still using the 2010 Census, but should be able to update soon.  Likewise, on a state website, we can find the 2020 market value and taxable value for each high school district. Since the taxable value relates directly to county taxation, it isn’t hard to make a chart showing how much residents of each school district pay for county government.

PopulationMarket ValueTaxable ValueTaxable Value/ person
LCHS6,260$1,201,098,056$17,042,130$2,722.38
Libby9,844$1,030,779,916$13,536,404$1,375.09
Troy3,583$ 509,934,526$ 6,912,824$1,940.17
Total19,687$2,741,812,498$37,491,358$1,904.37

Intriguing – Troy residents provide taxes to Lincoln County at about the same rate as the county average.  North County folks provide about 43% more taxes per capita than the county average, and Libby folks per capita county taxes is approximately 28% lower than the county average.

The area represented by the Lincoln County High School district has 31.8% of the county’s population, and provides 45.5% of the tax dollars that fund county government.  Libby, where most of the county government occurs, has 50% of the county’s population, and provides 36.1% of the taxes that fund county government.

I guess it’s a question suitable for debate – is it better to receive more government than you pay for, or is it better not to receive as much government as you pay for?

When Lincoln County was created, it made sense – virtually all of the county drained into the Kootenai River, and the county was connected by river, rail and road.  With Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa, the county was split in two.  On the other hand, the numbers suggest that secession might be a fiscally responsible alternative.

More by this Author:

If LCHS District were a County

After the article on searching Lincoln County data, the question came in: “What if North Lincoln County was its own county?”  The answer is available, but it takes the sort of personality that enjoys digging through data.  Here’s a few facts that would describe the thought experiment that would be county 57. County 57, sharing boundaries with the Lincoln County High School District, would rank 31st in population… Continue reading If LCHS District were a County

Searching Lincoln County Data

There’s a long-term question of whether North Lincoln County gets fairly treated in county services.  Back when the county was created in 1909, it made sense – everything drained into the Kootenai (except for Stryker, and driving 93 toward Kalispell makes it easy to see how that mistake was made.)  Sixty years later, Libby Dam removed the towns along the Kootenai that were the middle of the county. … Continue reading Searching Lincoln County Data

Community, Demography

If LCHS District were a County

After the article on searching Lincoln County data, the question came in: “What if North Lincoln County was its own county?”  The answer is available, but it takes the sort of personality that enjoys digging through data.  Here’s a few facts that would describe the thought experiment that would be county 57.

County 57, sharing boundaries with the Lincoln County High School District, would rank 31st in population of Montana’s 57 counties (6,260 residents).  The remainder of Lincoln County would drop from the tenth largest population (19,980) to twelfth (12,694 residents). Data from 2010 Census and, of course, will likely change with completion of the 2020 Census. 

Looking at market and taxable valuations we find that High School District 13 (LCHS) has a market value set at $1,202,098,056 and taxable valuation set at $17,042,130.  By my count, and this is the type of sort where it is easy to miss something, County 57 would have market and taxable valuations larger than 17 Montana counties. 

The same source shows that Lincoln County’s market valuation is $2,741,812,498 and taxable valuation is $37,491,358.  44 Montana counties show lower market values than Lincoln County – not a great variance from the population rank.  County 57 would be 22nd in market valuation.  The remainder of County 56 – consisting of Troy and Libby High School districts, would be 21st.

A more detailed study might include roads, total area, access to county services and a number of other items.  For a simple, “what if” analysis, looking at population and market value seems adequate.

Community, Demography

Searching Lincoln County Data

There’s a long-term question of whether North Lincoln County gets fairly treated in county services.  Back when the county was created in 1909, it made sense – everything drained into the Kootenai (except for Stryker, and driving 93 toward Kalispell makes it easy to see how that mistake was made.)  Sixty years later, Libby Dam removed the towns along the Kootenai that were the middle of the county.  Since then, Lincoln County has existed with a center that is “drive-through” and commerce from Eureka generally goes along highway 93. 

The easiest way to get the taxable values data is to search by school districts.  The Office of Public Instruction shows them, and we only need to check the 3 high schools.  This data is from the FY2021 budget reports.

Taxable ValuationPercentage
Libby District$13,407,78336.7%
LCHS (Eureka)$16,318,59244.7%
Troy$ 6,775,14618.6%
County Total$36,501,521100%

The county lists 7 school districts and taxable values are available by school district, and the 2010 Census SF1 provides population data by school districts.  Libby has a unified school district, while Eureka needs Fortine and Trego added, and Troy needs Yaak and McCormack added.  The 2010 Census Profile shows:

PopulationTotal PopulationPercentage
Libby9,8449,84450 %
Troy2,850
Yaak248
McCormack351
Sylvanite134
Total3,58318 %
Eureka4,902
Fortine770
Trego588
Total6,26032 %
Lincoln County19,687100%

.

Taking the taxable values and apportioning through the population, allows us to rank the proportion of county services each resident of the three districts funds:

High School DistrictTaxable Valuation per Capita
Libby$1,362.03
Lincoln County High School$1,680.77
Troy$1,964.38
County Average$1,586.88

The data demonstrates that the burden of funding Lincoln County’s services falls lightest on the average Libbyan, heavier on the North County, and heaviest on the Trojans.   Demonstrating that the North County receives less service requires a different method of extracting data.