Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias Our office received the comprehensive annual financial report for the city of Vermillion this week from City Finance Officer Mike Carlson.

It's a thick book, spelling out just about every detail one would ever want to know about every fund of our city's government, from general, special revenue and debt service, to capital projects, enterprise and general fixed assets.

Since I have trouble balancing my checkbook, I soon felt like one of the first archaeologists to uncover hieroglyphics in an Egyptian tomb � in other words, I need a translator to fully understand the report.

The document does contain some compelling information in the back, however. It serves primarily as a snapshot of our community, with data that gives us a picture of how we are today, while at the same time sharing information about how we've changed in the last 10 years or so.

The city's general government expenditures have grown by approximately $1 million in the last 10 years, from $2,397,295 in 1990, to $3,325,550 in 2000.

Revenues received from the city during that time period have also grown, from $1,428,145 in 1991, to $2,743,391 in 2000. Revenue sources include taxes, licenses and permits, intergovernmental, charges for services, fines and forfeitures, and miscellaneous sources.

Vermillion's total property tax levies and collections in the last 10 years, in terms of simple dollar amounts alone, have also increased significantly. In 1991, the city's total tax levy was $358,009. In 2000, the levy was $1,001,691.

The total assessed actual value of taxable property in Vermillion, including real property assessed value and utilities assessed value, was $95,683,616 in 1991. Those values grew steadily in the last decade, and totaled $189,121,943 in 2000.

I would be remiss, while sharing these revenue and tax figures, to not mention that property tax rates paid by Vermillion residents for city, county and the public school district do not share those same growth characteristics.

If you were to make a line graph of tax rates in the community over the last 10 years, it would somewhat resemble a roller coaster, with its highest points in 1991 and 1992 with a total rate at over 40 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Those rates eventually began to decrease, hitting a low of 31.58 in 1995. Since then, tax reform in the state has set different rates for non-owner and owner occupied properties in South Dakota. In 2000, the rate for non-owner occupied property was 31.38, and 22.48 for owner occupied.

Some more tidbits:

* During this brief era of growing budgets, Vermillion's population has declined. Over 10,000 people called the community home in 1992, 1994, and 1996. In the past decade, the city's population peaked at 11,967 in 1998.

Then it started to drop, down to 10,066 in 1999 and the 9,765 figure recorded in 2000.

* Clay County's per capita personal income was $12,776 in 1991. It grew to $17,178 by 1994, then fell to $15,800 in 1996 and 1997. It shot up to $20,447 in 1998, and kept growing, to $23,576 in 1999.

* Public school enrollment has had its ups and downs in the last 10 years. The total number of students enrolled in 2000 was 1,390, which is nearly the same as back in 1991.

Student numbers were highest in the mid-'90s. The totals for 1993 through 1997 were 1,437, 1,429, 1,404, 1,382 and 1,444. After a drop in 1998, the numbers have remained steady in 1999 and 2000.

* The principal taxpayers in Vermillion, according to their 2000 assessed valuation, are Polaris Industries, Inc., Harlow and Lynne Hatle Trust, Laurence and Beth Brady, U S West, David C. DeRouchey Trustee, Charles Allison, Steve and Yavonne Slowey, Brighton Heights LLC, Gregg and Nicole Peters and Annar Petterson.

* The city's largest employers are The University of South Dakota (1,327), Gateway (500), Vermillion Public Schools (230), Sioux Valley Vermillion Campus (200), Polaris Industries (150), Hy-Vee (130), Quality Telemarketing (100), City of Vermillion (90), SESDAC (70) and South Dakota Public Broadcasting (63).

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