Archive for Thursday, August 25, 2011

School board lowers mill levy before approving 2011-2012 budget

Cynde Frick, USD 348 director of financial operations, left, talks to the school board about the 2011-2012 budget during the July meeting. The school board decreased the district's mill levy by 1 mill at Monday's meeting.

Cynde Frick, USD 348 director of financial operations, left, talks to the school board about the 2011-2012 budget during the July meeting. The school board decreased the district's mill levy by 1 mill at Monday's meeting.

August 25, 2011

After a lengthy discussion on how to give USD 348 taxpayers a break this school year, the board of education decreased the annual budget by 1 mill Monday night.

A nearly two-hour debate centered on the capital outlay and the bond and interest mill levies ended in a unanimous vote. The USD 348 School Board voted to decrease each by 0.5 mills from the budget that was approved in July.

The district’s overall budget is $18,373,801 and the mill levy is set at 68.811 mills. A year ago, the budget was $18,111,188 and the mill levy was at 70.143 mills. The district’s general operating budget is slightly more than $11 million and the tax rate on that is 42.311 mills.

“I want people to get a break,” School Board Member Nick Harris said. “Can we do a happy medium and cut 0.5 mills from capital outlay and the bond and interest. It’s a 1 mill cut that gives everybody a break and doesn’t put us in as big of a bind next year.”

Most of the discussion Monday night focused on what to do with the capital outlay and bond and interest mill levies. Those were the two budget, along with the supplemental general, that could be adjusted. The board chose to keep the supplemental general mill levy at 22.311 mills, because if it was lowered, the district would also lose state funding.

The bond and interest mill levy was the primary focus of the discussion. Dustin Avey of Piper Jaffray gave a brief presentation to the board about the district’s bond and interest budget. Before Monday, it was set at 22 mills for this year and projected to remain there for a few years, because of extra bond issue money that was moved into the fund by the school board in June.

After 2011-2012, the bond and interest budget is projected to decease to 17 mills for several years. Avey explained to the school board how all of these numbers are dependent upon several variables, including assessed valuation, state funding percentage and district enrollment.

Avey also told the board that lowering the mill levy this year could cause an increase next year. However, he said it was too early to tell what might happen.

In an attempt to give taxpayers a break on the mill levy and keep from seeing a large spike next year, the board decreased the mill levy from 22 to 21.5 mills.

“If it’s lowered to 21 mills this year and you grow less than what’s expected, it’s likely you’d have to go to 22 or something higher next year,” Dustin Avey said. “There are a lot of variables that go into that number, so it’s hard to say right now officially.”

The other part of Monday night’s discussion was the capital outlay mill levy. It was constant at 8 mills until it was decreased to 5 mills a year ago. In July, the board set it at 6 mills.

In the debate over the capital outlay budget, some board members sought to keep it at 6 mills, because the money is spent on purchasing vehicles, technology purchases and making larger repairs that are needed in the district. However, other board members said some of the items on the capital outlay list are wants instead of needs. In the end, a compromise was made at 5.5 mills.

“I’d be OK with 5.5 mills,” Board President Ande Parks said. “I’d prefer to keep it at 6, but I can work with 5.5 mills.”

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

Comments

rbayer 2 years, 7 months ago

On July 11, 2011 the Administration presented to the School Board a proposed budget for the 2011-2012 school year. Included in that budget was the proposed changes to mill levies for USD 348, including the Bond and Interest line item, the Capital Expenditure item, and the Local Option Budget (which feeds into a fund called the Special Supplemental fund). Cyndi Frick, the Budget Director, presented the Board with a few options for adjusting the Bond/Interest and Capital Expenditure items, where nearly all the discussion took place. The amount presented to the Board as a requested increase for the Local Option Budget was 21.835 mills. Baldwin Signal journalist Jimmy Gillispie documented this fact as such in his July 14 article about the meeting:

“The proposed 2011-2012 budget would increase the district’s local-option budget from 21.062 to 21.835 mills.” (1)

Keep in mind that this was the budget that was to be published in the official newspaper of record prior to adoption. The Board approved said budget for publishing on a vote of 7-0. However, at the August 22 budget hearing, the amount of the Local Option Budget presented to the Board for approval was 22.311 mills. This amount can be seen reflected in the “Code 99” document published on the USD 348 website, dated August 26, 2011 (http://usd348.com/?dl_id=559).

Now the pressing question becomes, can the Board actually adopt a higher Local Option Budget mill levy than what was approved for publishing at the prior meeting? It is troubling that the Administration did not expressly point out to the Board that this amount had increased (and equally troubling that the Board did not recognize it as an increase). There was also no explanation given for why the amount was increased, or for what use the additional requested dollars would be spent.

It isn’t clear whether there were violations of Kansas statutes by this action, but at the very least it represents a tremendous lapse of judgement by the Budget Director and Superintendent if not an outright attempt to deceive the Board and the public.

Robin Bayer 203 9th Street robin.bayer@gmail.com

(1) http://signal.baldwincity.com/news/2011/jul/14/usd-348-budget-approved-publication-board-educatio/

0

greyghost 2 years, 7 months ago

Please post any response you may get from the superintendent and/or budget director. Note that neither have been known posters on this site.

0

jgillispie 2 years, 7 months ago

Robin, the budget was approved for publication in July - pending approval from the Kansas State Department of Education. KSDE approved the budget for publication but with a slight increase in the LOB from what the board approved. Then the budget was published and approved Monday. The district's financial director explained all of this at Monday's meeting.
For the record, the district isn't changing anything it does for the LOB, it's still at 30 percent. But Dorathy explained at the July meeting that more districts around the state are increasing their LOBs, which is forcing the mill levy to go up, because more district's are wanting a piece of that state money.

0

rbayer 2 years, 7 months ago

Jimmy,

I respectfully disagree with you, as I was at Monday's meeting and there was no explanation whatsoever regarding the LOB. The increase was not forced in any way by the State BOE. The State may review budgets but it is for compliance with State laws, and not regarding enforcement of amounts to be requested. My question remains. The Board was asked for approval of 21.835 mills for the local option budget to be published, which is the approval that was granted from the Board. The approval was not presented as "30% of State financial aid", even though that is indeed what it might turn out to be. If the Administration now substituted the amount of 22.311 without the Board knowing, approving, and (possibly republishing) then it is a very legitimate question as to whether there were improper actions. I believe the taxpayers of USD 348 deserve to know that they are being provided proper information in keeping with Kansas statutes.

Robin

0

hyperinflate 2 years, 7 months ago

What's the deal, Jimmy? You write your first serious piece that actually calls into question wasteful spending at the district, and now you have to ask forgiveness, kiss the ring on bended knee, and prove once again to Paul that you are a faithful water carrier for the district? I'll let you in on something -- your readers will appreciate it if they feel like you are on their side and play the role of skeptic, in keeping with your job as a member of the free press.

0

jgillispie 2 years, 7 months ago

I was just presenting facts that I witnessed from the previous meetings, nothing more or less. I'm not on either side of fence.

Jimmy

0

hyperinflate 2 years, 7 months ago

Really, Jimmy? You're gonna pretend that somehow you are a completely disinterested bystander who just happens to have a notebook handy to record "facts" in an arbitrary and dispassionate way? Because I find it stunning how often your omission of key details, or your incorrect statements have the effect of pushing the exact message that Paul wants out there.

I'll give you the simplest example. Your headline says that the mill levy was reduced. In fact, there was one mill levy that was increased by nearly 6% over last year. That is IMPORTANT INFORMATION that citizens care to know. You completely busted on that. Your statement was that they kept the mill levy at 22.311. Now does that mean that they kept it at last year's value? Well I know the answer, but does your reader? Does it mean that they kept the mill levy the same as what was presented to the Board at the July meeting? I know the answer to that one. The answer is NO. They raised it but you did not report it as such. Please explain to me in the ethical canons of your profession where such slanted reporting is allowed and how that can be attributed to unbiased reporting?

0

bulldog4life 2 years, 7 months ago

Robin Bayer is just a sore loser. Since he didn't win a spot on the School Board he just wants to make trouble for everyone. Now more than ever we all need to rally around the Administration and the School Board and give them our unconditional support. These are incredibly hard times and their jobs are incredibly difficult. They don't need hassles and questions from small-minded noisemakers. They need our absolute trust that they will do the right thing. People like Robin Bayer are just out there to make themselves out to be important and they don't mind trampling on upstanding, giving people like Superintendent Dorathy and Cynde Frick.

0

BaldwinDad 2 years, 7 months ago

Seriously.....Wow Unconditional....well sorry that is not how I was raised....you might want to worship at the alter of Public Education, but I for one want to find out how and why they are spending my money. Also if they mess up I'm going to call them on it.

It's always funny how people will hold McDonald more accountable for messing up their $5 lunch, but they wont hold the BOE or administration accountable for thousands of dollars in wasteful spending.

0

bulldog4life 2 years, 7 months ago

We trust these folks daily with the health, safety and well-being of our children. They are not going to behave improperly. Their jobs are made so much harder by people like you. Day after day they perform thankless jobs, and all they ask for is to be left alone to do what they are trained to do, yet you just can't seem to let them. You attack them, revile them, and accuse them of all manner of inappropriate behavior. I have had enough. These are the hardest working, most trustworthy and honest people and I for one will stand up for them "unconditionally". I'm sure every other parent in Baldwin City will also.

0

BaldwinDad 2 years, 7 months ago

LoL....you might trust them but I hold them accountable for their JOB they CHOOSE to do. I like how people always call it a thankless job, no one is forcing them to do it, and they do get compensated for their time. So you can can the drama for your next NEA meeting.

I never reviled them I hold them accountable for the money they WASTE, if your to naive or love struck with the poor job this administration is doing then fine. But quite using words like WE, well unless you have a mouse in your pocket.

0

Nathaniel Johnson 2 years, 7 months ago

You are correct in assuming that politics at the local level is thankless and largely unappreciated but I believe that even these good folks understand that no one should get unconditional support as that would lead to all sorts of complications with Democracy. I am very thankful for people like Mr. Bayer for posting their doubts and concerns and for doing so in a public rather than anonymous way.

Nathaniel Johnson gruyere.emmentaler@gmail.com

0

Julie Craig 2 years, 7 months ago

The article states that the Capital Outlay levy was voted to be set at 5.5 mills. This isn't correct. The published budget was 5.5 and the Board voted to reduce it .5 so it's now 5.0 mills.

0

hyperinflate 2 years, 7 months ago

It's interesting, jvcvinland. Jimmy will own up to THIS mistake. That's because it represents "good" action on the part of the district. But of course, Jimmy only reports facts, according to him.

Never mind that this provided the perfect cover for shifting the nearly .5 mills over to the operating budget (from what was published to what was passed by the Board) and yet the district gets Jimmy to print that the district lowers all our taxes. Nice.

0

jgillispie 2 years, 7 months ago

Jvcvinland, that is correct. I'm sorry for the mistake. It will stay at 5 mills like last year.

Jimmy Gillispie

0

Julie Craig 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure it's "good" action, hyperinflate. It seems like we are always putting a bandaid on repair jobs that need to be fixed. The capital outlay fund is crucial for routine maintenance of buildings, buses, etc. It sounds like some Board members didn't want to make the cut at all from 6 mills.

0

hyperinflate 2 years, 7 months ago

jvcvinland,

I should have been clearer. When I said "good" I meant "that which Paul wants the community to believe", which is of course Jimmy's clue to parrot it.

That being said, don't you think it's so much more important to have a shiny new performing arts center than to have drip-proof roofs on the buildings? Clearly the last School Board and this one believe that's the case. Their message to you: shut up and support us unconditionally.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.