Making the numbers add up

This time of year the Register publishes reports about city, school and county budgets.
They are laden with figures, sometimes to the point that they become distracting. That leads to reports being less lucid than we’d like.
A little commentary ahead of time should help:
A mill is one-tenth of a cent.
Residential property is appraised for taxation in the following manner: An appraiser determines the market value of a house by using a computer model that takes into account similar structures and what they fetched on the open market. That figure is multiplied by 11.5 percent, which is set by the state, to determine the assessed value. That’s the number used for tax purposes.
To put that in perspective, a house that could be expected to sell for $80,000 is assessed at $9,200 — $80,000 times .115. Once assessed valuation is determined taxes are figured by multiplying that figure by whatever the tax levy is, represented in mills. So, if the levy is 150 mills, about what most city dwellers hereabouts pay, the tax is $1,380 — $9,200 times .150.
To simplify it a little more, each mill of a levy raises $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
With budget reports on the horizon, Register reporters will avoid making them too complicated. We’ll depend more on percentage of increase from one year to another and when levies are expressed in terms of mills, we’ll give examples.
We know the bottom line that concerns most readers is how property taxes, and whatever they increase, are going to affect them individually.
We’ll try our best to make that the point of what we report.

— Bob Johnson