A proposal to roll back capital outlay millage a tad, to account for an increase in funds raised by the recently passed half-mill operating revenue referendum, was defeated at last week’s special meeting of the school board.
Board Member George Thompson had proposed the rollback, from 1.0 mills to about 0.96 mills, in order to balance a roughly $44,000 increase in monies raised by the half-mill referendum, approved by voters in June.
Thompson said the half-mill will bring in about $804,589 next year, about $44,000 more than the $760,000 raised this year. Because the board could not alter the half-mill, he proposed trimming the capital outlay millage, in keeping with the move first made eight years ago when the board kept taxes steady by proposing the new half-mill while reducing by half the capital outlay millage.
“I wanted to propose to cap that (referendum funding) at last year’s level, to see if we can try to give back a little,” he said. “I would rather lower the half mill but we can’t.”
The combined millage rate for the school district is set to be 5.750 mills, a drop of 0.053 mills over the current 5.803 mills. This comprises a required local effort of 3.502 mills, and discretionary mills of 0.748, both set by the state, as well as the 1.0 mill capital outlay and half-mill operating millages.
Because the countywide tax base for the schools will expand in 2016-17 by about 4.4 percent, up from $1.80 billion to $1.88 billion, the overall slightly smaller millage will raise about $10.94 million next year, up by about $494,000 from the $10.45 million raised this year.
Board member Stacy Kirvin said that “property values are higher but we’re levying less. The value of the property went up, but the amount that we tax went down.
“I kind of see what we’re talking about, but what concerns me is that kind of sets a precedent,” he said.
Kirvin said that once the new school’s mortgage payment is factored, an ongoing expense through 2023, maintenance costs and capital outlay sharing with the charter school consume most of the one-mill’s budget.
“The charter school gets 5 percent with 29 percent of students,” he said. “What happens if they need money for a new roof? It’s not a big pot of money. We have more expenses and we’re going to keep having more expenses if we give raises.”
He also noted that the rollback would mean very little savings to most property owners, as it is less than one-tenth of one mill.
Superintendent Nina Marks said “I like the thought that Mr. Thompson proposes. It would be great for the public to see you roll back, but finances are pretty solid right now. I know you want to give it but it doesn’t sound like that’s the best way to go.”
Chair Pam Shiver agreed. “That fund balance is pretty stable right now,” she said. “It may not generate a lot of money but it’s a good gesture I think it would make a good statement, saying to the public that we’re going to be good stewards of this money.”
Thompson argued that “capital outlay is not going to change for the next four years.”
Finance Director Shannon Venable said that the district’s $1.8 million capital outlay budget, especially with buying five new buses and more than $400,000 in annual maintenance costs, leaves only as slight cushion.
“I would keep it at one (mill),” she said.
The motion to keep the capital outlay budget at 1 mill passed 4-1, with Thompson opposed.