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School board lowers mill levy before approving 2011-2012 budget

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

August 27, 2011 at 8:34 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

School board lowers mill levy before approving 2011-2012 budget

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/20...

August 27, 2011 at 12:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

USD 348 utility bill for July doubles from 2010

Now in a budget as tight as USD 348's, you can imagine that having to suddenly find a lot more money would be difficult. According to the article, the $80,000 bill was double that of July, 2010. So where to find another $40,000? According to another article in this week's Signal, Jimmy writes the following:

"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."

However, if you look back at the Signal's article from July 14, 2011 covering the last Board meeting (http://signal.baldwincity.com/news/20...) you can see that the supplemental mill levy was proposed to increase to only 21.835 mills. That means that from July to August, the supplemental was requested to increase an additional .476 mills. A mill is worth approximately $74,000 for USD 348, which means that the Administration asked the Board to increase our property tax by approximately $35,200 from the amount approved in July. There was no explanation provided to the Board as to why the supplemental was increased, and unfortunately for us citizens, none of the Board members asked.

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

August 25, 2011 at 8:09 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

USD 348 utility bill for July doubles from 2010

The July utility bills for USD 348 are available at this link (PDF format)
http://www.aca-exchange.org/images/ju...

A spreadsheet showing electricity and water usage at each of the buildings in the City is available at this link (PDF format)
http://www.aca-exchange.org/images/ut...

(The water consumption listed on the utility bills and spreadsheet are in cubic feet. There are approximately 7.5 gallons in each cubic foot of water.)

A few points worth noting:

1.) The article compares July, 2010 versus July, 2011; however, a more useful comparison is for a month when school was held (April, 2011) versus July, 2011 when USD 348 did not hold classes. July electricity consumption was 69% above April. By comparison, a university in town that holds summer classes saw its electric consumption increase by 43% in July over April. Keep in mind that this university maintains 24-hour residence halls, performance/study spaces, and laboratories.

2.) The article does not address a $17,000+ water bill at the new Primary Center where there are no athletic fields or newly-installed landscaping. The usage for the PC is approximately 1,690,000 gallons of water. That's enough water to fill two and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools.

3.) The water consumption for USD 348 was 40% of all the water used in Baldwin City in the month of July.

4.) The total utility cost of over $80,000 mentioned in the article does not include utilities usage at the two outlying locations in Vinland and Marion Springs that are still being kept open as running facilities.

August 25, 2011 at 7:53 a.m. ( | suggest removal )