The school board was voting on a proposed mill levy that would increase taxes to raise approximately $20,000 in taxes that would be matched by another $20,000 by the state vs. an amended budget that would keep the mill levy flat. The budget was completed previously, but due to an error in calculating the property tax, they were $40,000 short.
The proposed levy would raise the taxes on a home valued at $100,000 by about $5.50 per year.
Superintendent Dr. Diane Gross said that she is still assessing the needs of the school system. She mentioned some foundations that needed fixed, vehicles to be replaced, and the cost of professional development in order to prepare staff to create curriculum for new state standards. She said there were a lot of needs she hasn’t found yet, but said the money “would not be unspent”.
A number of people expressed concern for the students and that education would suffer if the mill levy wasn’t increased.
Some individuals pointed out that taking money away from the families would hurt the children.
Jamie Armstrong said if the school board felt they needed to raise taxes for the school district she supported their decision.
Joe Barr said that he is retired, but has taken a part time job to help offset the tax levies and high cost of living. He pointed out that he needs to replace his car just like the school system, but he can’t afford it. He also asked if there was a system in place to reward people who come up with cost savings ideas.
Chris Maycumber said that spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean the school system will achieve there goals, but it does make it harder for small businesses. He said that they can’t continue in business if every time the school system needs money they simply raise taxes. He pointed out that the $40,000 can be cut from the school’s budget without making major changes and urged them o keep the mill levy flat.
Janet Braun (President of the School Board) said that the school system has made all the cuts they could that wouldn’t effect students and that she was appreciative of all the feedback she was getting. She said that it was quite a shock to find out that the amount of money had decreased due to the tax error.
Jordan Witt (Vice President of the School Board) said he appreciated the time people took to come and voice their opinion. He was glad to see that there could be a community conversation without tearing the community apart. Justin Meeks (Board Member) said he was glad to see people involved and hopes that people will continue to be engaged in the budgeting process. Ken Rienbolt (Board Member) said that he is very familiar with the schools needs because he still has a junior in high-school.
Steve Floyd (Board Member) said he had made a list of the pros and cons for each side and said they came out pretty even. He said that the first area that would be cut would be buildings and facilities. He pointed out that since it is a small dollar amount it is more of a principle thing than a cost issue. He said they will possibly be looking at much larger needs next year to meet the district’s goals. He said he would be more comfortable looking at a plan with dollar amounts and voting on that based on what is best for the kids. He pointed out that the district will not fail if they don’t pass it and that the tax base isn’t going to fail if they do.
Belynda Davenport (Board Member) said that when she ran for office she told everyone that she wanted what was best for the children as well as the parents and community. She said her emails were half for the increase and half were against it. She said that the district had made a lot of cuts already. She said it was very positive that people were discussing and trying to come up with creative solutions. She also expressed a desire to support the new superintendent.
There was a motion to keep mill levy the same and lower the budgeted expenditure by Ken Rienbolt. Steve Floyd seconded the motion:
- Jordan Witt – Y
- Michelle Hudiburg – N
- Justin Meeks – Y
- Janet Braun – N
- Ken Rienbolt – Y
- Steve Floyd – Y
- Belynda Davenport – Y
Budget will be as amended with the loss of $40k to the school system and a savings of about $20k in local taxes.