School board opts for all 8 mills for capital outlay
After a special budget meeting Monday, the Baldwin School Board decided to stick with the maximum 8 mills for the capital outlay fund so it can fund many projects throughout the district.
The 8 mills will be an increase of four mills for the capital outlay, but will only result in an increase of 0.563 mills for the entire budget this year. For the first time, the state is picking up funding a portion of the capital outlay.
"We've done that because we've identified specific facility and equipment needs," Supt. James White said. "I think this is an opportunity to meet some of those needs we have put off in the past."
The maximum 8 mills will provide $720,664 in new revenue to go along with the $168,409 carried over from last year for a total of $889,073. Only $525,780 of that will be taxed, because the state is providing the rest of the money.
That capital outlay money will be spent on a list of items that White gave the board. The list, which consists of projects around the district, was created by White with the help of the building administrators.
"I'm thrilled we have the capital outlay money to make some of the needed repairs that we have put off for the last four years of flat budget," Board Member Alison Bauer said. "I'm tickled pink."
Since the capital outlay mill levy will rise from 3.973 mills to 8 mills, the entire budget will be affected. The district's budget will increase from 54.417 mills last year to 54.980 mills this year. That will result in approximately an extra $36,000 being taxed. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed valuation.
One of the bigger projects is working with the Baldwin City Council and the Baldwin City Recreation Commission on the proposed new ball fields. The school district has decided to go ahead and contribute its $50,000 this year towards the construction.
"I'm very pleased we can collaborate with the city and the recreation commission and try to get the new ball fields started," White said. "I think it's a need for our community."
During the meeting, board members discussed whether they should go ahead with the plan. Board Member Scott Lauridsen thought the district should start contributing money toward the fields.
"I think it's kind of the vision we have of the district," Lauridsen said. "When you look around at some of the other districts and they have nice things, you want to have some of those yourself, when the budget allows. It's been in our plans for a while and we are just making sure we are starting to execute now."
Another large item on the list is the track addition north of Baldwin High School. The board has decided to spend $90,000 to begin the construction and possibly allow field events to be practiced there.
The two main reasons the board has decided to fund the track are safety concerns and too much usage at Liston Stadium, where the track teams have practiced for years.
"It's become a safety issue," Bauer said. "But, we've had so many years of tight budgets, it's going to be tricky to fund all of these wants we have."
Some other larger items on the capital outlay list include two vans, a school bus, a public address system at Baldwin Junior High School, stair treads at BHS and asphalt work at the bus barn and different schools.
The list also includes BHS lockers, computers, window and door replacements, band instruments and a security system at BJHS.
"It will be spent on those things, no question about it, unless we have a very large occurrence that requires us to change the plan," White said. "As of right now, this is how we are going to spend the capital outlay money."
Board Member Ande Parks said he was tired of not acting on these bigger budget items during the meeting.
"We talked about some big projects at our last meeting," Parks said. "I'm kind of sick of saying 'whoa that's big, we'll talk about that down the road.'"
White said around 60 percent of the money from the capital outlay fund won't come until around Jan. 21, while the rest won't arrive until the first couple weeks in June.
"I can't emphasize enough we can't do many of these things until the end of this year," White said.
Lauridsen said the current capital outlay plans give the board a plan which might lead to bigger things down the road.
"This buys us less than a year to revisit our long-range plan and figure out what we want to do with a bond issue or capital outlay," Lauridsen said. "This buys us six months or so to see what we want to do."
At the meeting, the board also fine-tuned this year's budget for the budget hearing Aug. 29, which is designed for public comment. The district's budget will be $7,668,134 compared to last year's budget of $7,573,444.
After meeting in executive session, the board approved the hiring of several assistant coaches at BJHS.
The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 29 at the District Office. It will include the budget hearing and a short meeting about a few other items.