Archive for Wednesday, July 31, 2013

With proposed budget, De Soto district continues pattern of mill levy decreases

July 31, 2013

Property owners in the De Soto school district can again anticipate a decrease next year in the portion of property taxes dedicated to public schools.

The owner of a home appraised at $200,000 would pay about $48 less in property taxes to the school district if the budget is adopted, said Ken Larsen, the district’s director of finance.

The De Soto school board Monday unanimously approved publication of a proposed 2013-2014 budget that includes a mill levy of 79.974 mills, a decrease of 2.288 mills from last school year. The board also set a public hearing of the budget proposal for Aug. 19, after which the budget will be up for adoption.

A mill equals $1 in taxation for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

De Soto school district’s mill levy has seen slight decreases every year for at least the past three or four, Larsen said.

Anticipated taxes to be levied next school year total $29.9 million, a decrease of $283,504 from last school year.

In all, the district’s proposed spending plan totals $83.9 million, including a little more than $37 million in general fund expenditures.

One major expense anticipated for next school year and approved Monday is a capital outlay payment of $1.2 million going toward the district’s five-year technology plan, which was approved in the last school year. In this coming year, which would be year two of the plan, the district expects to start implementation of a bring-your-own-device approach, where students would bring their own mobile devices, such as laptops, from home to be used during classroom instruction. The district would provide devices for those students who don’t already own them.

The funds approved by the board Monday will go to pay for the infrastructure, including wireless capability, needed to make this happen — though it will take some time. Brad Sandt, president of K12itc, which manages technology in the district, said he expected the infrastructure wouldn’t be installed and ready to go until Thanksgiving or Christmas break.

One change from previous years’ budgets will be seen in next school year’s local option budget. In the last general election, voters approved a 1 percent increase to the amount of local property taxes the district would be allowed to levy to help support itself, increasing the amount from 30 percent of the general fund budget to 31 percent. Subsequently, the portion of the mill levy going toward the local option budget will increase from last year’s 17.579 to 18.756, or an increase of 1.77 mills.

The district asked voters to approve the measure as it would allow the district to take advantage of a cost-of-living adjustment from the state and help offset the loss in extraordinary growth funding the district has received since 2000. The tax-based funding source is available to districts seeing rapid growth in enrollment. But De Soto’s enrollment has slowed down enough now that it will lose the funding in a phase-out over the next two years.

In the coming school year, Larsen said, the district can expect to receive a little more than $281,000 in extraordinary growth funds, a major loss from the more than $2.3 million the district received last school year. The local option budget increase plus the nearly $1.8 million in cost-of-living funds the district is expected to receive will help offset this loss, Larsen said.


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