Dr. Tim Mitchell, superintendent of the Rapid City Area Schools, addressed the Black Hills Forum and Press Club this noon in Rapid City. The main topic of the conversation was the six-million-dollar, five-year opt-out the Rapid City School Board passed Tuesday night. Per $100K of property value, the RCAS opt-out will levy an extra $72 on residential property, $30 on agricultural property, and $150 on commercial property.
During question time, Black Hills magnate and former legislator Stanford Adelstein took the mic to ask the superintendent if the district had calculated how much revenue it would gain if it taxed agricultural land at the same rate as residential land. Obviously the district had not, since the 2.6:1 ratio between residential and ag levies is prescribed by state law.
But not to worry: Adelstein wasn’t really asking a question. With spreadsheet in hand, he offered the answer: this… what shall we call it? tax break? government subsidy?… lower levy on ag property denies the Rapid City Schools three million dollars a year, half the amount of the opt-out.
Does Stan have a plan to stop revenue from agri-business slip through our schools’ fingers? Or is there an economic logic to charging farmers 42% less per dollar of value than homeowners and 80% less per dollar of value than businessowners?