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Board considers 1-mill increase

By Bethany Knipp

District officials recommended a 1-mill levy increase and an increase in budget authority to the USD 383 Board of Education on Wednesday, though no decisions have been made.

In a budget work session, director of business services Lew Faust said that he recommended increasing the mill levy for the capital outlay budget from 6 mills in fiscal year 2014 to 7 mills for the 2015 fiscal year.

A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value. The capital outlay budget is capped at 8 mills by way of a local resolution.

The district’s capital outlay budget is intended to pay for items considered to be of long-term value for the schools, including technological advances and maintenance projects such as roofing.

Faust also recommended to the board that the district’s local option budget authority increase from 27.2 percent to 30 percent for the 2015 fiscal year.

“Really to try and make things work, we’re going to have to go up,” Faust said.

That increase would allow the district to raise more money in local property taxes. The local option budget is a supplemental operational fund that helps pay for salaries and supplies. It allows the district to raise locally up to 30 percent of what it receives from the state. The board could exceed 30 percent with a public vote.

Faust said if the budget authority stayed about the same, the district “would be about $243,000 in the hole.”

“The good news is of course with that is, in this particular fund, with the changes that happened as a result of the Gannon lawsuit and full equalization if we have to go to 30 percent , it’s probably going to be little to no impact on the mill levy,” Faust said.

Board member Darell Edie said that if the authority was raised to 30 percent, the district would “have nowhere else to go.”

“That’s true,” Faust said. “Without an election.”

Edie said he was concerned about what to do next year because of increasing health insurance costs from Affordable Care Act mandates. 

“I think we need to start thinking about and planning for that next year then,” Edie said.

Board members did not make any decisions about the recommendation, nor did they discuss it in depth at Wednesday’s meeting.

Based on a new 2015 projection that Faust made, increasing the capital outlay mill levy and the local option budget authority would increase the overall mill levy slightly this year from 52.45 mills to 53.42 mills.

Faust said that was because the Kansas Legislature poured some state funding into the LOB after the Gannon decision, when the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the funding to the state’s schools was inadequate.

Using the most recent mill levy projection, for property owners with a home valued at $100,000 and accounting for an average 2.3 percent annual increase in value, the overall mill levy increase would increase taxes from $557.17 to $582.46.

The board will meet again Aug. 6 for another budget discussion.

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