Archive for Thursday, July 28, 2011

USD 348 school board sets budget hearing date for Aug. 22

July 28, 2011

Following Monday night’s USD 348 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Paul Dorathy sat down to explain some details of the 2011-2012 district budget.

The school board unanimously approved the budget for publication at the July 11 meeting. On Tuesday, the Kansas State Department of Education was scheduled to review the budget before it’s published for the public to view. It must be published 10, but not more than 20, days before the public hearing.

Once the budget is published, the public will have a chance to comment on it at the school board public hearing, which is at 8 p.m. Aug. 22 at the District Office. The tax levy is set at 69.835 mills, which is a decrease from 70.143 a year ago.

“They need to understand that is the maximum,” Dorathy said. “Once it’s published in the paper, that’s the maximum it can be. At the hearing, the board can decide to lower it some, but they can’t raise it from what’s published.”

One increase in the 2011-2012 budget is the local-option budget. It is increasing from 21.062 to 21.835 mills this year.

The district’s LOB has been at 30 percent of state per pupil base aid of $4,433, which was the maximum amount the state distributed to district before the Legislature made cuts to deal with the state revenue shortfalls during the recession. USD 348 has remained at the maximum 30 percent for years before Dorathy took over in 2006.

“Essentially what happened is the state approved the same dollar amount it did last year for the supplemental general fund,” Dorathy said. “What that does, to maintain the same dollar amount at the local level, is it increases the mill levy because more school districts are wanting more of a share of that dollar amount.

“We are a district that is maxed out at 30 percent local-option budget. There are a few districts in the state that are not maxed out. This year, because they are short on money, they are increasing their percent and pulling dollars out of that same pool we were getting funds from. That reduces the state aid we get and that means the local taxpayers have to pick up the difference.”

Another mill levy that will be increasing is the capital outlay budget. A year ago, the school board voted to decrease it from 8 to 5 mills to save taxpayers money. At the July 11 meeting, the school board set the capital outlay budget at 6 mills for the 2011-2012 school year.

“That’s one that they could still adjust,” Dorathy said. “The key thing that people have to understand is many of the big-ticket maintenance items that we do in the district are paid for out of capital outlay. So every mill that is dropped off of that understandably helps taxpayers, but at the same time, the board has to make a decision about which projects get deferred into the future. They directly affect one another. If you lower the mill levy, then you can’t do all of the maintenance that people want us to do. If you raise the capital outlay to do the maintenance, then it raises people’s taxes.”

The district’s bond and interest obligations are decreasing this year, which is helping to offset the LOB mill levy. The bond and interest mill lev is decreasing from 24.084 to 22 mills for 2011-2012. The drop was expected, according to Dorathy.

“It’s going down some this year,” he said. “There was going to be a spike last year. and it was supposed to go down this year. What we’re trying to do with that is keep it at an even level for about seven years. Then it should drop a significant amount in seven years.”

The public hearing will be at the next school board meeting. The regular meetings were moved to the fourth Monday of each month.

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