County resets levies after adjusting for Calumet change affecting GFPS

Cascade County Commissioners voted unanimously during a special meeting on Nov. 2 to reset the levies for Great Falls Public Schools.

Commissioners made the adjustment after the Montana Department of Revenue lowered Calumet’s taxable value by $2.14 million, after levies and budgets had been set, which would have been a reduction of $518,000 in the GFPS budget that was adopted in August.

County requests tax recertification for GFPS budget, Calumet tax reduction

The change has delayed the process for tax bills being prepared and distributed to county taxpayers, but those will be coming in the near future, according to county officials.

There was no public comment during the meeting and officials said no written comment had been received.

County to consider tax recertification for Calumet valuation drop to keep GFPS budget whole

GFPS was the only taxing entity to request the recertification of their taxable values.

Mary Embleton, county budget officer, said the Calumet adjustment will have minimal impact on the county’s budget.

City Manager Greg Doyon said that, “finance advises that the delay also gives the city an opportunity to reconsider recertification, but staff’s recommendation is to stay the course and absorb the increase. Otherwise, a city recertification will have additional financial impact on property owners.”

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By recertifying the taxable value, the county will essentially collect the same amount of tax revenue as before Calumet’s value was dropped, but the difference will be spread among the remaining taxpayers.

No GFPS levy on the May ballot

Superintendent Tom Moore said during an Oct. 21 county commission meeting that without the recertification, the cut could reduce programs and staffing.

“The impact is significant to the school district,” he said.

Brian Patrick, GFPS’ business operations manager, said that the cut would include $93,000 from the debt service fund, which is required to make payments on the $96 million facility bond approved by voters several years ago; and $296,000 from the general fund.

“After going through 10 years of  cut after cut after cut…it’s real hard to imagine a half-million dollar impact on our operations,” Patrick said during the Oct. 21 meeting.

Briggs said during that meeting that the logical thing to do would prohibit these kinds of changes once the DoR has released certified taxable values in the same year, but that would require a legislative change.