robinson education center exterior

The Manhattan-Ogden school board on Wednesday will vote on a budget that is slated to increase the tax bill of the average homeowner by 2.2%.

The meeting starts at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Robinson Education Center with public hearings related to the fiscal year 2022 budget prior to a vote.

The proposed budget has a property tax rate of 61.619 mills, which is down 0.026 mills from the 2021 fiscal year. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value.

With that rate, the owner of a $100,000 home paying $662.98 in 2021 would pay $678.22 in 2022, considering the average value of an existing single-family home in Riley County increased by 2.2%. This would be an increase of $15.24 or 2.2% from 2021.

The district budget is $134.6 million, an increase of $5 million from the FY21 budget of about $126 million.

Instruction costs account for 51% of total expenditures for the district at $57.3 million.

Average salaries for teachers will increase from $60,969 for the 2020-21 school year to $62,005 for 2021-22. Classified personnel — including custodians, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and food service workers — also will see a salary boost from an average of $37,981 in 2020-21 to $38,867 for 2021-22.

The board has already agreed to these raises.

In other business, the district is set to pay a little more than half of its $128,363 February gas bill.

Board members will consider and likely approve a final settlement payment in an ongoing dispute over sharply increased utility payments from earlier this year. In April, board members approved joining a coalition of school districts across the state, led by the Kansas Association of School Boards, to challenge drastically increased natural gas costs.

This spring, district officials received a $128,363 bill for February gas usage. That amount makes up 91.5% of the district’s $140,000 total allotted budget for natural gas expenses for fiscal year 2021.

The natural gas provider, Symmetry Energy Solutions of Houston, Texas, cited record-breaking cold weather for the boost in natural gas consumption — and the boost in cost.

Under guidance from KASB attorneys, district officials paid $44,773 out of the $128,000 gas bill to account for its share of February gas usage. As part of a recently finalized settlement, the district will be able to close the disputed bill with a final payment of $23,312. This final payment also ends the district’s agreement with Symmetry.

KASB will move forward with a new utilities provider for the coalition of school districts, and gas service will not be interrupted during the transition.