Proposed school budget includes $1 million for district’s new fitness center
Residents in the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District would see an estimated eight-cent increase in the tax rate under the proposed 2015-16 budget, which is expected to be approved by the school board Monday, Oct. 26, following a public hearing.
The budget would require a tax rate of $10.30 per $1,000 of equalized value, a 0.8% increase from last year.
That is the highest rate since 2000-01.
The district’s state aid also increased, from $5.76 million in 2014-15 to $5.86 million.
That amount, which was certified by the Department of Public Instruction on Oct. 15, is about $40,000 less than the July 1 estimate, Business Manager Kris DeBruine said.
The school board has the ability to tax residents that difference, but may instead tap its fund balance for improvements like roofing repairs at the middle and elementary schools and locker room renovations at the middle school, DeBruine said.
The district’s equalized property valuation, which is used in state aid calculations, declined for the sixth consecutive year to $540.8 million, a decrease of 0.7%.
Total operating expenses in the budget are expected to rise to $16.4 million, up 10.3% from last year.
The district still needs to pay $1 million for its new fitness center, which accounts for more than half of the spending increase.
Some of the increase in expenses comes from the special education fund, which is up 7%, due to increased special services needs for some students.
“We have one very high cost special education student who doesn’t go to school in the district, but we have to pay for,” DeBruine said.
The board is expected to approve a $5.57 million property tax levy, which is the same as last year.
The levy would include $824,030 for debt payments, $100,000 for the community recreation fund and $4.53 million for the general fund.
Last year, the district levied $5.06 million in the general fund, but DeBruine said that was higher than the board’s intention.
“The board can choose to levy less in the general fund and use that extra money for the roof and locker room repairs,” she said.
The community recreation fund expense is to support new fitness center equipment and personnel.
The school board is expected to adopt the budget following the 6 p.m. annual meeting.