District’s mill levy to jump
Baldwin School District patrons will see a slight increase in their 2008-2009 mill levy, which was approved unanimously at Monday night's monthly meeting.
This year's budget is set at $15,438,033, which is up slightly from a year ago at $14,385,098. That is a seven percent increase from last year's total budget.
The general fund is set at $8,765,371 while the supplemental general or local-option budget is at $2,629,611. The district's total mill levy increased 1.024 mills from 55.016 to 56.140 this year.
"It went up a little bit," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "The state did provide us with a few more dollars. The overall mill levy went up about 1.1 mills.
"Part of that is due to the fact that the local option budget kind of bounces up and down with the way taxes and process work," he said. "This just happened to be the year it goes up. Next year, we could probably see a drop in that LOB because of that yo-yo effect that the LOB has with taxes and process."
Although the mill levy is slightly increasing from a year ago, Dorathy said the taxpayers shouldn't see much of an effect, especially those who live in the Baldwin City limits.
"They might see a slight increase, but not much," Dorathy said. "They aren't going to see much of an increase. When you start putting things together like the city, which dropped a mill, those two probably offset each other. In reality, people may not see much of an increase there at all."
The school board approved the publishing of the budget at its July meeting. The budget was published and the school board held its annual budget hearing Monday night. Nobody spoke up at the hearing and the board approved it with a 7-0 vote.
"It looks good," Board President Alison Bauer said. "The board feels in control of where we are spending the money. We have a better idea of where it's all going. We have completely aligned ourselves with the state system, so we don't have any issues of not paying things out of the appropriate fund. I feel very positive about it."
The increased state funding and larger budget will help the district afford to pay for its increased fuel and food costs. At Monday's meeting, Cynde Frick, director of financial operations for the district, said those were the two largest increases in the budget.
"Some of the big changes are food and gas," Frick said. "We did larger increases than normal. We added another 20 percent on transportation for gas as the state recommended. Those are the two big changes."
Dorathy said the larger budget helps the district pay for those increased costs.
"It's about the only way we can give raises and cover our costs," he said. "It's been recommended that we increase our fuel cost budget by about 20 percent. It will be significant and that takes a chunk more dollars away from other things. That's just fuel costs, let alone energy and food costs."
During the meeting, the board briefly discussed the preliminary enrollment numbers and how those might turn out, because that could affect the budget after the Sept. 20 cutoff date. Board Member Scott Lauridsen asked Dorathy about the enrollment and how it looks right now.
"Things look pretty good for enrollment right now," Dorathy said. "When we start school, we'll find out who is here and those numbers will level out. I'm cautious about saying anything publicly about our enrollment until we start school or until Sept. 20."
After the meeting Bauer was hopeful that an increased enrollment will help the district's budget this year.
"I'm cautiously optimistic with the preliminary reports that we might have a slight increase in students," she said. "That will give us the complete budget authority to do everything as planned. We don't want to republish the budget being seven or eight kids short and losing some of those dollars."
In the end, Dorathy said the 2008-2009 budget is once again tight, but he feels good about it right now.
"It's going to be a tight budget again," he said. "I feel pretty good about the fact that we will be able to accomplish the things that we want to accomplish this year with the money that's been allocated to us."