Lowered School Tax Cap Means Revenue Gap in 14-15 Budget

Jul252014
school_aerial2Lansing School Business Administrator Mary June King told the Board Of Education Monday that a downward adjustment to Lansing's tax cap will result in a budget shortage of about $40,000.  The Board accepted her recommendation to transfer that amount from the district's Debt Service to its Capital Fund.

"The tax levy information that we sent out in April was wrong," King said.  "We are looking to fix that with this warrant.  In February I submitted the property tax cap filing.  Then we received notice in March of a reduction in state building aid based on final closing reports that were done on schedule back in 2003."

King explained that voters agreed to spend $3,612,048 on the Learning, Safety and health capital project in March of 2010, but capital reserve funds did not generate as much income interest in 2011 as projected.  That created a $40,000 revenue shortage.

She said that the board could elect to take $39,000 from the general fund, but noted that the Debt Service Fund is earmarked for this kind of expanse.  The intricacies of State Education Law required that the board transfer the money into the General Fund first, and from there they could transfer it to the Capital Fund.

While King acknowledged that the district guessed wrong about the interest the money would generate, she also highlighted the difficulties school districts have in creating a budget months before the State tells them what monies they can expect to receive.  All the capital project paper work had been submitted on time over four years ago, and budget decisions this year were made based on assumptions in those filings.

"But the state just audited us in this past year," Kind said.  "They said they were taking away about $156,643 dollars in state aid this year.  I applied for relief from that to try to spread the deficit over three years, and it only took them two days to say no to that!"

The outcome is that the tax cap for Lansing has been reduced by about $150,000.  This is significant because districts that keep their levy below the tax cap made their taxpayers eligible to receive a rebate from the State for the difference between last year's school taxes and this year's.

The 2014-15 $27,820,000 budget approved by voters in May remains the same.  The $16,570,120 tax levy reported in the budget bulletin has been reduced to $16,433,255 to keep the district below the new tax cap of $16,436,219 and insure taxpayer rebates.  The Board voted to confirm the tax rolls and authorize the collection the new tax levy 5/0.

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