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|02-11-03: Projected deficit leads to levy request
|By LANCE MIHM
The Daily Standard
MINSTER - School board members who met Monday night decided to ask
voters for a new levy due to a projected deficit in the school budget.
Board members approved placing a new, continuous 6.5-mill operating
levy on the May ballot.
The decision to go for another levy was made after the district's
five-year financial forecast showed a $502,849 deficit in 2004, with debt climbing to $2.6
million by 2007 if no new levies are passed.
"It pains me to do this, but we are at a point where we have
member Ted Beckman said.
The new levy will generate approximately $141,000 annually, based on
2001 property values.
The levy is projected to raise a little over $900,000 in new revenue
through 2007, when board members anticipate another levy will be needed.
Board members already cut hiring a new eighth-grade teacher, music
teacher and part-time art teacher for next year and need to cut another $35,000 to keep
from hitting the projected $502,849 deficit.
Board members had discussed a millage amount of 6.5 to 6.9.
"The times are hard," Beckman said. "Politically, I
think it is better to conserve that money and stay at 6.5."
Board Treasurer Laura Klosterman reiterated that the new school did not
in any way contribute to the financial woes the district now faces. Superintendent Hal
Belcher said much of the problem could be attributed to unfair school funding practices,
the economy and state budget cuts.
With expected cuts from state funding along with a projected loss in
tax revenue, the board is expecting about $18,000 less in total operating money in 2003.
If the levy fails, board members said they will be facing severe budget
cuts and will not be able to enter long-term contracts with personnel.
The board then met in executive session to consider personnel
contracts. After the executive session, the board voted to renew Belcher's contract for
another five years but did not decide on the salary.
In other business, the board:
- Scheduled a special meeting for Feb. 26 at 7 a.m. to authorize
Garmann/Miller and Associates, Minster, to advertise bids for elementary school
- Approved a scheduled field trip to Walt Disney World for band
students in May 2004.
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