Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Central Heights posts 1.6-mill tax rate increase after cuts, bond

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 8/21/2013

RICHMOND — Schools across Kansas are facing cuts in state funding, and Central Heights is no different.

Though expenditures are down from last year, the budget for the supplemental general fund, or LOB (local option budget), is up, Jim White said.

RICHMOND — Schools across Kansas are facing cuts in state funding, and Central Heights is no different.

Though expenditures are down from last year, the budget for the supplemental general fund, or LOB (local option budget), is up, Jim White said.

“We raised the amount of the LOB by $50,000 this year and we could’ve raised it more, but our general fund went down about $60,000,” White, Central Heights superintendent, said. “If we raised the LOB, it would take care of most of what we were down in the general fund and that was one of our goals as well as keeping the mill levy as stable as we could.”

The state doesn’t have the funds to give school districts the amount mandated by state statutes, White said, so the state is prorating funding.

“[The state] has a statute that created the LOB, but when they’re making all these cuts in school funding and cuts in all areas of the government, then they begin to prorate,” he said. “Let’s say the statute says the state will fund the [Central Heights] LOB at 70 percent, but they don’t have the money to fund it at 70 percent, so they prorate it back to fit the amount of money they have so you only get 80 percent of that 70 percent.”

State funding varies from school district to school district, White said, with wealthier districts receiving less funding and less wealthier districts receiving more.

Like many other school districts in Franklin County, Central Heights has had to raise its mill levy or taxing rate to make up for the drop in state funding, White said.

“The state’s not funding at 100 percent of the statute, so local taxpayers have to turn around and make up whatever that difference is,” he said.

The mill levy is up 1.557 mills to 51.426, where last year’s mill levy was 49.869, White said. The rise in the mill levy also is partially to fund the bond the district recently passed, he said.

“Most of the 1-mill increase had to do with the increase in our bond and interest,” White said. “Because of the new bonds, we’ll begin paying interest on them for the first time this March so we had to calculate that amount in to allow additional expenses and levy a little more to pay the first bond expense.”

School district leaders initially thought they would have to raise the mill levy more to cover the cost of the bond and interest, White said.

“We anticipated we’d be up 3 mills with the bond we passed,” he said. “This first year [of paying on the bonds] we didn’t go up 3 mills; we only went up about 1 mill, and that’s a good start.”

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