Rising property values and falling pupil units are the factors behind a rising tax levy for Barnum schools, officials said during the district's truth in taxation hearing Tuesday, Dec. 15.

The 2021 tax levy will increase $144,298 to nearly $934,807, said Jen Smith, a finance funding and management specialist with the Arrowhead Regional Computing Consortium.

Barnum had "a significant drop" in pupil units between the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, which Smith said could be attributed to students graduating or moving outside of the school district boundaries who were not replaced with new students. Pupil units are different from the number of students enrolled in the district. Smith said high school students are weighted more heavily in the calculation than elementary students.

Since then, pupil units have been steadily decreasing, while property values have been increasing.

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The state contributes aid to the district based on property values, Smith said, so when property values go up, state aid drops.

"Because the property value within the district per pupil has increased, more of that burden is shifting on to the taxpayer and less is being received from the state," she said.

The result is a $110,777 increase for that portion of the district's tax levy, according to documents Smith presented during the hearing.

The district also expects to see increases in health insurance benefits for retirees, but those are a small portion of the levy increase — about $32,412, the documents show.

The district's budget projects a nearly $98,000 surplus, said Dawn Hultgren, business manager. The bulk of the district's $9.2 million in revenues — 80% — come from state sources.

One person submitted a question via Facebook asking what other local sources of revenue the district includes in its budget besides property taxes. Hultgren said extracurricular, admission and lunch fees, as well as donations would be considered local revenue streams. Interest on investment income would also fall under that category, Smith said.

The tax impact on property owners will depend on their property values, Smith said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the 2021 levy.