Archive for Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Published Baldwin USD 348 budget confirms superintendent’s prediction

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

July 16, 2013, 3:01 p.m.

Updated: July 16, 2013, 3:01 p.m.

The Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education approved a 2013-14 budget for publication that confirmed predictions the district would see little added revenue for the coming year.

The published budget confirmed what Superintendent Paul Dorathy had said in the past two months after the Kansas Legislature decided to maintain state aid to schools at the last year’s level.

Money in the $19.4 million 2013-2014 budget that will be earmarked for classroom uses -- rather than debt reduction or facilities maintenance -- totaled $11.26 million. That was only $18,000 more than the amount the district had available for that use during the last school year.

Dorathy said the Legislature’s decision to keep state aid to the district steady was better than a cut, but rising costs made it difficult to maintain current programs. With that challenge, the district has made a number of cost-cutting measures in recent months, including a fee for bus riders not reimbursed by the state and moving the district offices.

The published budget’s total mill levy is 69.55 mills, which is 0.61 mills higher than the 2012-2013 mill levy.

With that mill levy, the district’s share of taxes on a $150,000 single-family home would be $1,154 for 2013-2014, or an increase of $9 from 2012-2013.

For the second straight year, the district learned late in the budget process that it would avoid a decline in overall real estate valuation, such as the city has experienced the last two years. The district’s total assessed valuation increased slightly to $75.37 million, up from $74.8 million in 2012-2013.

District financial director Cynde Frick explained to the board that the $19.4 million published budget set maximum spending levels that couldn’t be increased without republishing the document. But the board will be able to reduce expenditures when it considers the budget for approval on Aug. 19, she said.

One area the board could consider reducing is the capital outlay fund used for facility improvements. The published budget funded that at the maximum the district is allowed of $602,948. Frick said she plugged the maximum mill levy authority for the fund into the proposed budget, knowing the board could decide next month to settle for less revenue.

The board did that a year ago when it reduced the published budget’s 8 mills of authority for capital outlay to 7 mills before final approval.

Frick said she would tighten up projections on some of the non-mill-levy-supported funds before the budget hearing. The Kansas Department of Education also must review the budget before it is approved and could insist on changes, she said.

Included in the published budget is the proposed 2013-2014 budget for the Baldwin City Recreation Commission, which doesn’t have its own authority under state statute to levy property taxes.The BCRC 2013-2014 budget totals $440,000. Its total levy of 5 mills remains unchanged from the current year.

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