State funding, tax increase helps balance 2015-16 school budget

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By David Meade

Anderson School District One Superintendent David Havird presented a first draft budget to the District One school board during a work session held last week. The $62,722,766 budget balances with some state increases in revenue and a local tax millage rate increase of 3.34 percent.

Due to Act 388, residential property taxes do not contribute to school operations, however the millage increase does affect business owners, commercial and industrial properties and motor vehicles.

Starting with a brief recap of last year’s budget, Havird said the school district was able to avoid having to use $254,242 budgeted to be taken from the fund balance and that a refinance of $24.9 million in bonds saved the district $2.5 million in payments.

Havird also said the recently implemented local option sales tax will help tremendously with capital projects and that 20 percent of those funds can be used for reducing debt.

Havird said under the current state budget, the base student cost will be $2220, an increase of $100. “This is significant. We have not seen an increase in years.”

Havird said local assessments are up some and the budget does include a salary step increase for employees.

District One Finance Director Travis Thomas said the state is reducing lottery money, taking out K-5 funding, which is being re-allocated to the base student cost.

Thomas said the District is also expecting growth in the number of students, from 9136 last year to 9335 this year, which will result in an increase based on the base student cost.

Havird said the district will receive approximately $60,000 in new money from the state under the current House budget for this year.

Under the current budget, the millage is 137.5 mills. The value of a mill is up some to $178,081. The adjusted value of a mill (at 6.5 percent) is $97,313.

Havird said that Anderson County is seeing economic development by offering fee in lieu of tax incentives but the growth is not reflected to the school district because of the tax breaks going to the industries.

“They are doing a good job recruiting,” he said. “But we are not seeing an impact in Anderson District One.”

Havird pointed out that District One ranks in the top five of 84 school districts in academic performance and is 83rd of 84 in per student spending.

District One also has a lower than average millage rate of 137.5 compared to the state average of 177, while the current millage rate in District One is 137.5.

Havird explained that a 1.62 percent CPI for the state and population growth of 1.72 percent adds up to a maximum increase the District can have in the millage rate of 3.34 percent, which is being recommended in the new budget.

The tax increase will generate $447,000. “It helps with our budget,” he said.

Under the 2015-16 draft budget, state revenue sources include: State Property Tax Relief, Tier 1 – $1,720,606; Homestead Exemption Tier 2 – $696,500; Act 388 Reimbursement Tier 3 – $5,924,647 (increase of $170,327); Merchants inventory, $44,300; Manufacturing Depreciation reimbursement, $350,000 and motor carrier other state taxes, $75,000.

Local revenue sources include: Projected property/auto tax will generate revenues of $13,678,173. Delinquent tax is projected at $210,000. Fee in Lieu of tax is projected at $745,000 with an expected decrease over the next few years.

The budget includes additional staffing increase of 6 FTE due to increasing enrollments.

Staffing changes include 3.5 Full time Employees (FTE) in professional staff in elementary schools, none in midde and 1.5 in high schools. District wide teacher increase is a total of one with a .5 FTE for strings and .5 FTE for ESOL.

Budget increases include 6 FTE professional staff, $300,000; no additional support staff; step increase for teachers and support staff, $789,000; required teacher certification upgrades, $100,000; employee health insurance 2.63 percent increase, $151,296, retirement (25 percent increase) $17,874; and a match ofa new reading coach at Concrete Elementary, $40,000.

Expected Operational increases include utilities, $166,820.

Total projected revenues are $62,766,766. Total projected expenses are $62,766,766.

Anticipated revenues include Local sources $18,077,684; State sources, $42,923,186 and Other sources, $1,765,896. Total $62,766,766.

Anticipated expenses include Personnel (salaries and benefits) $54,023,150; Purchased services, $4,055,670; Supplies and materials, $3,143,959; Capital outlay (equipment) $872,062; Other expenses, $213,925 and Transfers, $458,000. Total $62,766,766.

The next budget work session if needed will be held May 12.