Archive for Wednesday, January 16, 2008

District to cut future budgets to fix tax error

District to cut future budgets to fix tax error

January 16, 2008

Tonganoxie schools Superinten-dent Richard Erickson plans to scale back the district's budget the next three years to rectify an error that cost taxpayers more than $368,000 in additional taxes.

The district plans to cut back its budget by $415,000 the next three years through lowered mill levies to make up for the error. At Monday's school board meeting, members unanimously approved the restructuring by a 6-0 vote.

The higher amount, Erickson said, was used to help cover interest on overcharges this year.

Another concern involved homeowners who plan to move to a new home before the 2009 budget is approved in the summer.

Erickson said homeowners may contact the county clerk and they would receive money back through reduced closing costs.

The tax error occurred this past summer. The board approved a budget for publication at its July 9 meeting. In the Aug. 1 edition of The Mirror, the published budget called for a levy of 54.696 mills.

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

However, at its Aug. 13 meeting, the board restructured its budget so it wouldn't increase its mill rate. The board actually approved a slightly lower levy from the previous year, at 50.603 mills.

At the December board meeting, Erickson said he discovered he had submitted the original information to the county by mistake.

After receiving certified budgets in August, the county sends information back to school districts, cities and townships to verify the information is correct.

After the December meeting, Erickson said had he looked through the documents and didn't notice the error. He did notice the error, which was in the bond and interest levy, when he received his property tax statements in November.

Erickson, as well as board members Kathy Baragary and Darlyn Hansen, formed a committee earlier this month to discuss the issue.

Leavenworth County Clerk Linda Scheer and deputy clerk Janet Klasinski attended the committee meeting, as did these patrons: Mark Himpel, Margie Gilner, Andi Schafer, Margery Thompson, Ginger Bouza and Roger Ediger.

Baragary said she selected patrons for the committee based on who was active in the community and would come to the meeting. She also selected people who had contacted her and shown interest.

On Monday, Erickson also mentioned a suggestion made at the committee meeting - having others look over budget information before it is sent on to the county.

"I think we can tighten up process and procedure," Erickson said.

Board clerk Audra Boone and treasurer RJ Stephenson were recommended to look over the documents before they are submitted.

Hansen said he was pleased with the proposed procedure.

"I think it's a good plan," Hansen said. "I think it's doable. I think it's a way to move forward on a positive note."

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