Archive for Wednesday, August 16, 2006

School district’s budget calls for increasing 2007 mill levy

August 16, 2006

Tonganoxie's school mill levy will take a slight hike.

School Superintendent Richard Erickson presented the budget summary at a special board meeting Aug. 8.

If approved, the proposed 0.87 of a mill increase, for a total 50.699 mills, would be reflected in this fall's tax statements. The levy for the 2005-2006 school year was 49.823 mills.

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property valuation.

The mill levy increase, Erickson said, is needed to:

  • Raise the local option budget to 25 percent of the general fund budget in order for the district to qualify for new state aid funding to open up a new school. Erickson estimated the state would pay the district from $500,000 and $600,000 per year over a two-year period of time.
  • Pay off a bond payment of $400,000 for the 1986 construction of the junior high building. The payment will be due in fall 2007.

Board member Ron Moore said he felt good about Erickson's proposed budget.

"I think it's a reasonable increase," Moore said. "We made the minimum increase needed on the LOB to receive the additional fundings from the state for our construction of the new middle school."

The total proposed budget for the 2006-2007 school year is $19.4 million. Last year's budget was $15.6 million. This figure includes all district expenses, including construction bond payment, special education, food service and capital outlay.

The 2005-2006 general fund budget was $8.9 million. And this year's proposed general fund budget is $10.1 million. The general fund budget, included in the total budget, primarily is used to fund staff salaries and benefits.

In calculating the budget, Erickson took into account the district's continued enrollment growth. He projected the upcoming budget on 1,700 students.

"Last year we had 1,638 students in the district," Erickson said. "This allows us about 62 enrollment growth."

Normally, Erickson publishes an inflated budget, so if the enrollment is higher than anticipated, the budget doesn't have to be republished. In those instances, Erickson said, the district follows a working budget, which is lower than the published budget. However, Erickson said the 2006-2007 budget is closer to the actual budget because, as he told board members, he wanted to keep any mill-levy increase at a minimum.

"I tried to keep that general fund budget a little lower than in the previous year just to make sure that we keep that 25 percent cap (for the LOB) down as low as we can," Erickson said.

Erickson noted, with the new middle school set to open in January, and with work at the high school and grade school nearing completion, the district will have additional new-school-related expenses. Erickson said this likely will mean additional staff could be hired.

To complete the $25.3 million construction project, Erickson said the district may use as much as $400,000 from the capital outlay fund.

Moore, who is starting his 12th year as a board member, said Erickson had done "a good job of keeping the budget in line and trying to be responsible to the taxpayers of the district."

And, Moore noted, though the mill levy increase was small, the district will receive additional dollars from increases in property values.

A budget hearing will be 5:30 p.m. Aug. 29 in the central office.

Also at the meeting, board members went into a 20-minute executive session, citing personnel issues and matters involving attorney client privilege.

After reconvening in open session, board members voted 5-0 to hire Rebecca White for a high school at-risk position. They also voted 5-0 to accept the resignation of Michelle Tamburini, who taught high school Spanish.

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