Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Board considers increase in tax levy

August 17, 2006

Lansing school officials have submitted a 2006-07 budget that would levy an increase of nearly 2 mills on the district's property owners.

The Lansing School Board, at its meeting Monday, approved for publication a budget that calls for $23 million in expenditures in the coming year, up from $19.4 million a year ago.

State law dictates the budget be published and a public hearing be scheduled before the board can adopt the budget. The board has scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, in the Lansing Middle School choir room for the budget hearing.

At the same time district officials are considering raising the mill levy rate, state aid to the district also is on the rise - about $8.4 million for general fund spending and $1.25 million for special education in the coming year. Superintendent Randal Bagby said state aid now amounted to 52 percent of spending compared to 48 percent a year ago.

The proposed budget includes an increase of 1.974 mills from a year ago with a total anticipated levy of 50.43 mills, up from 48.456 a year ago. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. The increase amounts to a school tax bill that will be about $22.70 higher this year for the owner of a home in the district valued at $100,000.

Bagby said taxpayers should look at the district's recent history before complaining about a mill levy increase.

"If memory serves our public they'll remember the approximate 4.5-mill decrease from two years ago. We have been working the last three years to make the mill rate more stable from year to year - we're almost there," he said.

One area of the budget where a proposed mill levy increase is sought is in bond and interest. Payments are beginning on the money the district has borrowed to build the voter-approved new elementary school and auditorium that will soon be under construction.

Two years ago the bond and interest fund required 10.5 mills; now it's at 12.563 mills. We're still being honest and maintaining integrity with the public on the bond issue," Bagby said.

Bagby also wanted patrons to remember the budget was merely a spending plan; the district probably won't spend the entire $23 million in the coming 12 months. But state law requires districts to budget for both expected and unexpected items.

"For example," Bagby said, "last year we spent $294,105 in capital, but we budgeted over a million (dollars). We do this just in case something unexpected comes up we will have the budget authority to take care of it."

This year the district has budgeted for capital expenditures of $1.9 million, but Bagby said the plan was to spend only about $390,000. The fund carries over any unspent money from budget year to budget year.

"Capital outlay is 4 mills any way you slice it," Bagby said.

The budget shows a picture of healthy growth in the district. It puts the total valuation of property in the Lansing district at $97.6 million; that's up from $87.9 million a year ago. The district also forecasts that full-time equivalency enrollment will be 2,165 students, up from 2,154 a year earlier.

The 2006 Kansas Legislature approved an increase in the base state aid from $4,257 to $4,316 per pupil.

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