School district's budget surpasses $30-million markProperty tax levy drops by three cents to $14.26
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Money, money, money.
Mt. Pleasant Community School District’s budget has topped $30 million. The district is projecting expenditures of $30,334,861 during fiscal 2013-14, according to documents from Ed Chabal, district director of finance. School directors will have a public hearing on the budget during their regular monthly meeting Monday, April 8, at 7 p.m. in the high school media center.
To support the budget, the district is proposing a property levy of $14.26 per $1,000 taxable valuation, which is a four-cent drop from the current fiscal year.
Chabal said the budget projections were made with 0-percent allowable growth. The Iowa Legislature still has not approved allowable growth for fiscal 2014 and guesstimates vary between 0 and 4 percent.
“We made the budget, based on 0 percent allowable growth because that is what the state (department of education) told us to do,” Chabal said.
Total tax revenue to support the budget is $6,961,506, an increase of roughly $231,000 from the current budget. Several factors are at play here. First of all, the district valuation increased by 3.3 percent or $15,779,725.
Secondly, the residential rollback (assessed valuation multiplied by the rollback equals taxable valuation on residential property) increased from 50.75 percent to 52.81 percent. That means that residential property will be taxed at 52.81 percent of its assessed valuation.
For example, in the fiscal 2014 budget, a home with an assessed value of $110,630 will pay school tax of $833, compared to $803 last year. However, if school districts receive 2 percent allowable growth from the state, the tax asking will drop to $807 on the same home.
There is no rollback on commercial property. Commercial property with an assessed value of $71,190 will pay $1,016 in property taxes for the fiscal 2014 budget, compared with $1,018 the current fiscal year. With 2 percent allowable growth, the tax tab drops to $984.
Rollback on farmland fiscal 2014 is 59.93 percent, meaning a 40-acre farm in Marion township will yield $809 in school tax compared to $778 for the current fiscal year (the current rollback is 57.54 percent). If the district were to receive 2 percent allowable growth money, the tax asking would drop to $770.
“I think it is a very realistic budget,” Chabal noted. “We have to take into account taxpayers and the needs of the district and balance it out.”
Naturally, the instruction line item (district staff salaries and benefits) occupies nearly half of the expenditures at $15 million. Debt service (bond payments) amount to $1.8 million. School/building administration is listed at $1.49 million and plant operation and maintenance $1,4 million. The district is planning to spend nearly $800,000 on transportation.
School foundation aid, $11 million in fiscal 2014, is the largest revenue source followed by property taxes. The district’s income surtax accounts for another $416,171. State and federal grant revenue is listed at $1.1 million and tuition/transportation received funds another $1.2 million.
The district also has a cash reserve levy which will generate $875,000. State law allows districts to levy up to $1,956,390. The cash reserve levy can be used for financial emergencies, such as the fiscal 2010 across-the-board budget cuts or to replace state foundation aid not received.
The instruction support program, which provides funds for at-risk programs and elementary guidance, will receive $561,320. Funds are generated from an income surtax ($416,171), property tax ($99,621) and state aid ($45,528).
Chabal did note the district is increasing the physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) from 10 cents to 33 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation. The district has both the board- and voter-approved PPELs and could levy up to $1.34. He said the levy is being increased to fund future facility needs.
Mt. Pleasant is projecting a beginning fund balance (July 1, 2013) of $5,001,567 and an ending fund balance (June 30, 2014) of $4,289,581.
In one other note, the district’s solvency ratio, which is unassigned fund balance/annual receipts has increased from 4.27 percent to 9.35 percent. The solvency ratio is regarded as a key indicator of the financial health of a school district.