Sidney board eyes tax increase
Mike Peterson - Wed, 20 Mar 2013 10:30:38 CDT
(Sidney) -- Property taxes are expected to increase significantly next fiscal year in the Sidney School District.
The Sidney School Board has set a public hearing on the fiscal 2014 budget for April 10th at 7 p.m. Under the proposed budget, Sidney School Superintendent Gregg Cruickshank tells KMA News the district's property tax levy would rise from $12.25 per thousand dollars valuation this fiscal year to $19.88 per thousand next fiscal year.
Cruickshank attributes the proposed increase to three factors. First, the district underfunded the property tax portion of its per-pupil funding, in anticipation of increased enrollment--something that didn't happen.Though the number of open-enrolled students in the district have increased by 45 between 2009 and 2012, the number of resident students in Sidney have declined by 40 during that same time period.
Secondly, the district lost $340,000 in state aid between 2009 and 2011. The third factor is a $300,000 deficit in special education funding over the past two years year.
"We did not levy for those special education deficits," said Cruickshank. "Special education deficits are funded with property taxes."
While saying the district doesn't have a budget authority issue, it has a cash reserve-cash flow issue. The district finished fiscal 2012 with an unspent authorized balance of $1.1 million. That's up from the fiscal 2006 level of $400,000.
"There's some good news there," he said. "But there's also some short-term bad news. We do need to raise property taxes to improve the cash position in our general fund."
School districts are required to have their budgets state certified by April 30th.