Aspen School District is transitioning to a completely locally-funded revenue stream for the 2023-2024 academic year because of skyrocketing property values.
The district will no longer be receiving budget equalization factor dollars as property and specific ownership tax revenue is projected to account for the district’s total program funding following a 68.3% increase in assessed valuation of taxable property, even after projecting a decrease in enrollment and mill levies to be collected.
“We’re going to go to 100% local funding, and that’s going to create some financial vehicles for us that are going to be positive for the district,” ASD interim CFO David Sholes said at Wednesday’s board of education meeting.
The budget equalization is state aid used to make up the difference between a district’s local revenues and its calculated programming budget based on per-pupil funding and enrollment. Despite projected enrollment set to dip below 1,600 students, Aspen’s projected program funding is $21.96 million, up from $20.1 million last year. The district projects that it will collect $21.34 million in property tax revenue in 2023-24, up from $15.29 million last year. The remaining portion of the budget is set to come from vehicle sales taxes, covering a projected $618,368.
Program funding shifts with actual enrollment numbers in the fall and adjustments to per-pupil funding. Assessed property value could also change with upcoming state legislation that would reduce property tax rates — namely Proposition HH, which would look to divert some TABOR funding to property tax relief — and property assessment appeals began in June, though Sholes isn’t expecting either to have a major impact on the district’s total valuation.
Any monies collected that go above the program funding threshold are designated to go into a special reserve.
The district estimates that, if HH passes, a homeowner with a valuation of $500,000 last year and would have paid $309.83 will see an increase to $373.10 if their home followed the average valuation increase of 68%.
Sholes is also projecting the district to “turn the corner” next year after three years of decreasing fund balance resulting in a loss of $3.86 million. He projects the district to make a modest increase in fund balance next year of $13,867, bringing the ending fund balance to $2.01 million.
“This 2023-24 budget has us living within our means, which is our commitment to our community and one of our Strategic Plan goals: to be good stewards of district resources,” Sholes said in a news release following budget conversations on May 10.
The approved total budget is $102.92 million, including $40.24 million in its building fund and an additional $2.69 million in its capital reserve fund. It budgeted $8.61 million for employee housing. ASD also projects an increase of $750,000 for salary and benefits increases for employees.
Rich Allen I Aspen Daily News I June 16, 2023