School district budget jumps 9.5 mills for 2009-2010
On Monday night, the Baldwin School Board increased its mill levy by 9.519 mills and unanimously approved a $15.4 budget for the 2009-2010 school year.
The school district’s budget increased from $14.8 million in 2008-2009 to $15.4 this coming school year. Baldwin’s general operating fund was $8.863 million last year, but cuts from the state legislature has dropped the general fund to $8.235 million for the 2009-2010 year.
“If you compare actual expenditures from ‘08-‘09 to the budget expenditures for ‘09-‘10, we are hundreds of thousands of dollars short and we knew we would be,” said Cynde Frick, director of financial operations for the district. “This is basically all of that state aid that was lost.”
The state base aid per pupil was cut from $4,400 to $4,280 earlier this year. It was again reduced to $4,218 this summer, which was an additional $105,871 cut from the district’s budget.
Despite the cuts in the general operating fund, the mill levy will be jumping from 56.159 mills to 65.678 mills. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.
The increase is because of the $22.9 million bond issue that was passed by voters in November. The bond and interest mill levy for the district was at 10.276 mills for the 2008-2009 school year. For this year, that number has increased to 20.614 mills.
The assessed valuation for property in the school district also dropped this year for the first time in many years. It decreased from $74.5 million to $73.5 million.
“Most of that was due to the effect of the bond issue and the first amount of bonds on there,” Supt. Paul Dorathy said. “It also went a little higher in mills, because we did have a valuation decrease of 1.5 percent. That pushed the mills up a little higher to produce the same amount of money. It’s a fairly significant increase that the voters approved.”
During the meeting, Dorathy explained that they tried to help the district’s patrons with the mill levy as much as possible.
“The average mill increase for the entire life of the bond issue would be 10.5 mills and that’s what we told everyone during the campaign,” he said. “This year, we are under 10.5 mills. In the second year, there is a little spike in the mill levy, but then it drops back down. In order to help protect taxpayers a little bit more, we raised a little bit more money in the cash-basis reserve, so that we could offset that mill increase next year. We are hoping to control the mill levy next year by a couple of mills. We’re attempting to not hit the taxpayers anymore than we already are right now.”
During the budget hearing Monday, Frick said the rest of the budget looks similar to the 2008-2009 budget.
“Everything looks like it’s flat this year, as far as revenue and enrollment,” Frick said. “The only place we’ve increased the budget was in at-risk, which is free lunch students. There was a pretty significant increase from the beginning of the year and May, so we bumped that up another 20 kids.”