Archive for Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Baldwin school district’s proposed 2015-2016 proposed budget maintains current mill levy

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

August 4, 2015

The Baldwin school district agreed Monday to publish a proposed 2015-2016 budget that would maintain the district’s current property tax levy of 65.704 mills.

The action came at a special meeting Monday. The budget, which will be published in Thursday’s issue of the Signal, sets maximum spending levels for the district. The board can reduce spending when it considers adoption of the budget at its Aug. 17 meeting, but cannot spend more without first republishing the budget.

A mill equals $1 of revenue for the district for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. At the 65.704 overall mill levy in the approved budget, the district’s share of taxes on a $150,000 home would be $1,085.

As expected, the district increased the mill levy to raise more money for its local option budget. A year ago, the Baldwin school board reduced the mill levy in support of its LOB by 5.69 mills. That reduction reflected an expected state equalization payment to the local option budget.

However, state equalization LOB payments to local school districts, which the Kansas Legislature approved in its 2014 session, were scrubbed when it was learned late last year that further budget adjustments would be needed because state tax revenue collections were falling far short of projections

The district was able to deal with last year’s LOB budget hole through the use of $90,000 of carryover funds. With neither the carryover funds nor state equalization funds available for the 2015-2016 LOB, the proposed budget raises the LOB mill levy by 3.544 mills to 18.282 mills.

The good news for district taxpayers is that a bond refinancing from December 2014 provided saving great enough that the district was able to reduce its bond and interest mill levy enough to offset the LOB increase and keep the overall mill levy steady.

In December, the board approved refinancing $7.37 million of the district’s 2008 bond issue, reducing the district’s average interest rate on the debt from 5.25 percent to 2.44 percent. It was estimated at that time, the refinancing would save district taxpayers $468,000.

District financial director Cynde Frick told the board Monday the published budget looks different this year because changes made with the state’s current block grant school funding plan. The district’s general fund expenditures now reflect pass-through funding for $794,000 in Kansas Public Employment Retirement contributions and the $2.82 million local option budget. When the those totals are subtracted out, the district’s general fund state aid remains the same as a year ago.

On Monday, Frick ran the proposed budget by Kansas Board of Education director of school finance Craig Neuenswander and deputy commissioner Dale Dennis, clearing up a few details but also earning praise. That praise reflects the board’s effort since the start of the recession to manage fund balances, maintain a steady mill levy and address state funding issues in a timely manner, Superintendent Paul Dorathy said.

“Mr. Neuenswander said, ‘You guys look way better than any budget I’ve seen,’” Dorathy said. “It’s been a very difficult budget year for a lot of districts out there. This board is doing a much better job in terms of stability.”

In another good news, Frick said the district’s overall assessed valuation increased by 2 percent, which was the best annual increase since the start the recession started.

District patrons will be able to share their opinions on the budget at a public hearing on the document scheduled for 8 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center.

The district’s published budget the annual budget for the Baldwin City Recreation Commission. It has a 5 mill assessment, which has stayed steady for years and is established by the BCRC board. It is attached to the district’s budget for statutory reasons.

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