Milton voters OK 10.5% levy increase
2010-11 Milton School District Budget
A look at the 2008 budget for the Milton School District
2010-11 - $34.86 million
2009-10 - $33.24 million
Increase - 4.9%
2010-11 - $14.08 million
2009-10 - $12.75 million
Increase - 12.6%
(Per $1,000 of assessed valuation)
2010-11 - $8.57
2009-10 - $7.91
Increase - 8.34%
MILTON For the second straight year, residents gave the nod to a tax levy increase of at least 10 percent for Milton School District.
Monday at the district’s annual meeting, residents heard details of a proposed budget for the school district calling for a 10.5 percent tax levy increase.
Residents voted 20-11 in favor of the increase. The vote was advisory. The school board will vote on the proposed tax levy in October.
The proposed levy for the 2010-2011 school year is $14.08 million—a $1.33 million increase from last year. It amounts to an 8.34 percent increase in the school district’s tax rate, said Mary Ellen Van Valin, the school district’s business manager.
The district won’t have a clear picture of how much it will receive in state aid until October. And property tax valuations, another factor determining a school district’s tax rate, also won’t be known until then.
But the district is predicting property values to stay flat. The proposed budget is based on a property valuation growth rate of zero percent district-wide.
Van Valin said the district is projecting a 1.1 percent decrease in state aid, a possible loss of $216,570. She said the decrease is on par with a larger trend in cuts to state funding for schools statewide.
“Really, there’s nothing on the horizon that’s encouraging for school districts with respect to any increase in state funding. Now, we shift to drawing from the property tax base,” Van Valin said.
State aid is partially based on student enrollment within each district. And although the district won’t learn its enrollment numbers until early September, the districtanticipates losing 20 students this year.
Van Valin said a one-time exemption this year will allow the district to trap $257,000 in revenue it could lose through declining enrollments.
Overall, the school district’s budget for 2010-2011 is projected at $34.86 million, a 4.9 percent increase in expenses from last year, Van Valin said. The district reports its main cost increases are in the areas of salary, insurance, operations, transportation, utilities and capital projects.
The board last year softened its 10 percent levy increase by shifting $500,000 from the district’s fund balance, otherwise known as its rainy day fund. The district didn’t need the funds for operations. In fact, the district was able to add about $170,000 to the fund.
School board President Rob Roy said it’s “very unlikely” the district would again draw from fund balance for levy relief.
The district is in arbitration over teacher health insurance coverage for the district’s 2009-2011 labor contract. A state-appointed arbitrator is set to decide whether to uphold the teachers union’s proposal to keep its current insurer or to uphold a proposal by the school district that the union switch insurance carriers.
That decision could be rendered by October. Van Valin said it won’t have an effect on the tax levy because the district already wrote a maximum salary and benefit cost increase into its proposed budget.