Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

School district mill levy to drop by 7 mills

July 26, 2007

Baldwin School District patrons will be happy to hear their mill levy will be dropping 7 mills this year.

The district's supplemental general fund will be decreasing from 23.698 mills to 16.781 mills. This drops the district's entire mill levy by a total of 7.208 mills. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

"This year we actually have a $55,000 advance on what the taxpayers owe, so the taxes for the patrons will be less," said Alison Bauer, Baldwin School Board president. "We are very pleased we are able to do that."

On Monday night, the school board unanimously approved the 2007-2008 budget after a short meeting. The board will have its annual budget hearing at 8 p.m. Aug. 13, which will take place during its regular monthly meeting.

"I am glad to have the proposed budget out there published so the public can take a look at it," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "I am glad to get the hearing set up and I'm glad to be on a more appropriate schedule this year."

The district tax levy is proposed to be 55.028 mills, which is slightly higher than the 2005-2006 year. The levy was 54.680 during that year. Last year the levy was at 62.236.

A portion of the decrease is a result of too much tax money flowing into the district's local-option budget at the end of the last year. Baldwin received approximately $55,000 extra tax dollars.

"In the local-option budget, we received more taxes from the county than we had budget to expend," Dorathy said. "That is an overpayment of taxes. What we do with that is we carry it into this budget. It reduces their taxes, since they've already paid them.

"That was not caused by anything we did here at the school district," Dorathy said. "It was caused by extra taxes coming in and being levied at the county level. Exactly why we got more, I can't tell you because it comes in as a receipt to us."

The news of a decrease should help patrons feel better about the district, according to Bauer

"The district patrons had reason to question the board's oversight of finances last year," Bauer said. "This year we've made, what I feel, is a great improvement. The skill of our administrators, the hard work of our staff and the buckling down of everybody to get this job done has made a huge difference. I feel like we are starting the year in a much better position than we were last year."

Last year, the school board had to raise the mill levy to help correct the $300,000 deficit in the budget from the 2005-2006 school year.

That problem was fixed by bonding against the capital outlay. The board will begin paying interest payments this year with its first principal payment due in the fall of 2008.

The board can begin paying principal payments if it wishes to take money from the capital outlay fund before next fall. It isn't required to, but has the option to begin the early payment.

On Monday, Cynde Frick, director of financial operations for the district, helped the board review last year's budget before Dorathy overviewed this year's.

Frick reported the year-end financial numbers. She said the district left approximately $1,000 in the general fund. Dorathy said that amount will be down to almost $0 once the auditor comes in at the end of the month.

Dorathy began this year's budget talk by saying the district's valuation has increased by about 5 percent to $73,281,985, up from $70,030, 943. He said the valuation can be a good or bad thing, depending on people's situation.

"If you're a taxpayer that had your appraisal go up, it's not necessarily such a good thing," Dorathy said. "If it's gone up because there are more homes or businesses that is good for everybody, because it spreads the taxes out over more people. It can be a good or bad thing depending on your situation. For the school district, it's a good thing because the higher the valuation, the less mills we have to levy."

He also estimated this year's general fund budget to be $8,402,891. That would include an increase of 10 students in the district. Dorathy did want to remind the board that this budget is only an estimate.

"These numbers are just estimates right now," Dorathy said. "Of course we would like to be as close as we can be. This budget does not have detailed items. That's not what this is. This sets parameters for what we can spend."

The board will stop its regular August meeting for the budget hearing at 8 p.m. Aug. 13.

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