School board talks about a possible 100% special levy rate
The Morgan County School Board discussed what to do in the face of a $350,856 budget deficit at a work session last Thursday. Options included a 100% special levy rate and another no-interest loan and a bond issue for facilities projects.
School Treasurer Nancy White said she has been through every line item and doesn’t see where else the budget can be cut.
A second budget work session is scheduled for tomorrow, March 22, at 5 p.m. at the school board office.
School Superintendent David Banks recommended that the school board consider raising the special levy rate to 100% with the decrease in projected revenue from county assessments. Last year the special levy rate was set at 88.5%.
Total assessed values for Class 2 through Class 4 properties for fiscal year 2013 is $1,013,602,789, down from $1,044,130,204 in fiscal year 2012.
Some $4,820,037 was projected in tax collections from the state school levy or current expense levy. The special levy was estimated to bring in $5,148,869.
100% levy rate
For a home appraised at $150,000 assessed at 60% or $90,000, a 100% special levy rate would mean a homeowner would pay an additional $47.51 in taxes this year.
For a $100,000 home assessed at 60%, it would be a $31.67 increase. For a $200,000 home assessed at 60%, it would mean an additional $63.34.
An estimated $280,000 had been cut from the budget with personnel decisions, Banks said. Professional and service personnel salaries are projected to increase nearly $300,000 in 2013.
Health and life insurance premiums, retirement plan expenses and other costs had gone up. Electricity costs had risen from $450,000 to around $700,000 since 2007-2008, White said. More revenue needed to be found, Banks said.
School board member Larry Omps said that the public had been gracious in supporting the levy.
However, Omps noted that the additional monies homeowners would pay are on top
of their existing levy payments at 88.5% and also the state school levy payments. Both ranged from around $245 to nearly $500 annually, depending on a home’s assessed value.
The special levy comes up for renewal in 2014 and will be placed on the ballot for voter approval in 2013.
Some $2 million in local funding will be needed if the Berkeley Springs High School Building C (gymnasium) NEEDS project is approved by the School Building Authority.
Banks and board president Laura Smith presented the project in Charleston yesterday without the roof replacement which they have been told wasn’t structurally needed at this time.
Smith said they were hoping for another $1 million Qualified Zone Allocation Bond (QZAB) no-interest loan for the project and could also request a bond issue. The school system is paying off two QZAB loans for facilities projects at $114,000 a year. One loan wraps up in 2016 and the other in 2018.
The proposed Fiscal Year 2013 school budget is for a general current expense fund of $23,536,386, a special revenue fund of $3,760,860 and a capital projects fund of $325,000, with a total budget of $27,622,246 – a decrease of $162,765 from last year’s total budget. The carryover amount increased to $794,515 for 2013.
There had been a steady decline in county school enrollment since 2007-2008. For the 2011-2012 school year, enrollment was down 31 students to 2,586 from 2,617 in 2009-2010. The projected county school population for the 2012-2013 school year was 2,563.
Declining enrollment meant a decrease in state aid. White’s preliminary calculations for state aid showed a deficit of $52,246.
Cost per pupil
Paw Paw High School had the highest cost per pupil – $12,746 – due to high school classes that were required, Banks said. Greenwood Elementary was the next highest cost-per-pupil at $11,875, then Paw Paw Elementary at $11,495.
Other schools’ per pupil costs were Pleasant View Elementary-$9,132; Berkeley Springs High School-$9,027; Warm Springs Intermediate-$8,822; Widmyer Elementary-$8,559; and Warm Springs Middle School-$8,480.
The number of professional positions had been cut from 15.1 to 12.1 positions. Service positions had been cut from 10.8 to 6.8 positions.
White said that the school system was 17.52 professional positions and 4.869 service positions over the state aid formula. Morgan County Schools pays for those salaries and benefits and not the state.
The salary schedules and salary supplements were the same as last year’s except for slight increases in the science fair, social studies fair and math field day positions.
Of the school requests, the half-time math teacher for Paw Paw Schools and a full-time interventionist for Warm Springs Intermediate School were most pressing, Banks said.
The proposed levy rates will be voted on tomorrow after the budget work session and then will be published for two consecutive weeks. The rates will also be sent to the state for approval.
At an April 17 reconvened meeting, the school board will formally adopt the special levy rates.