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home : news : news Sunday, May 29, 2016

3/6/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Central school board to keep tax rate unchanged

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

For all practical purposes, the tax levy in the Central Community School District will remain flat for the 2013/14 school year under a budget proposal the school board will consider for approval in April.

District officials are proposing a tax levy of $15.376 per $1,000 valuation, a decrease of three one-thousandths of 1 cent.

The proposal includes slight decreases in the general fund and debt service levies, which are offset by an increase in the management levy to fund the district's early retirement incentive program.

The Central Community School Board reviewed the proposal during a budget workshop at a special meeting Feb. 27.

Under the proposal, Central would have a maximum authorized budget of $15.1 million, a decrease of $688,450 over the current year. The total spending authority includes $1.1 million in unspent funds the district is holding in reserve to meet the state and district goal of maintaining an unspent balance of 5-15 percent of spending authority.

The proposed levy would generate $6.5 million in revenue from property taxes. The budget proposal includes an 8 percent instructional support levy.

Instructional support shifts a portion of the burden for funding schools from property taxes to income taxes. It was noted the school board looked at increasing the instructional support levy to 9 percent several years ago but found the levy already is at the maximum allowed under the state formula.

Management levy

Under the proposal, Central would levy for $367,000 under the management levy to cover the cost of early retirement incentives owed to 16 employees who retired in the last two years.

The district is making payments to nine retirees who accepted the incentive last school year and will begin payments to seven teachers who are retiring at the end of this year.

Central will owe $119,400 in retirement payments for the next two years and will owe $50,000 in the following year based on current participation.

PPEL fund

With a board approved physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) of 33 cents and a voter-authorized levy of 67 cents, PPEL revenues are estimated at $715,300.

Expenditures are estimated at $900,000 and would leave the fund with a balance of $366,365.51 at the end of the year. The spending estimate includes $500,000 for facility projects, although business manager Cindy McAleer noted it is a "placeholder" figure because the school board has not yet approved any specific projects.

Other expenses include $260,400 for a three-year lease of Apple computers for the district 1:1 computer program, $100,000 for building maintenance and $39,600 for other technology expenses.

An election for renewal of the 67-cent voter-approved PPEL will be held April 2.

McAleer noted the board will take action later this year on a resolution to transfer approximately $800,000 in leftover construction funds to the PPEL fund.

Additional construction funds of $338,794 were used to advance pledges made to the Saber Team for Arts and Recreation (STAR) gym and auditorium project, and the money will be reimbursed to the PPEL fund as those commitments are received.

In a review of the construction fund, McAleer noted the district must return approximately $170,000 to the Vision Iowa board for the auditorium part of the construction project. The district received a Community Attractions and Tourism (CAT) grant for the auditorium project but must return a portion of the funding because the actual cost came in approximately 22 percent under the original estimate on which the grant award was based.

Sales tax and other funds

Central is estimated to receive $1.2 million in revenue for the local option sales tax (LOST) fund and expenditures of $1.35 million, which would leave a balance of $630,599.25.

Expenditures include $950,000 in payments toward revenue bonds for the facility addition project and allocations of $200,000 each for transportation vehicles and technology.

Board member Kurt Rickard said he'd like to see the district start saving a portion of sales tax funds for major projects in the future.

Central will receive an additional $10,541 in state aid for education programs if allowable growth funding is set from zero to 3 percent. The district would receive an additional $55,856 with 4 percent allowable growth.

McAleer said an increase in contributions to the state retirement program will cost $23,000 and eat up a significant portion of the "new money" even if the legislature approves 4 percent allowable growth.

Federal budget sequestration is expected to result in an 8.2 percent cut in funding for Title I, Title II and Title VI services. Superintendent Dan Peterson said the cut will cost Central approximately $22,000, though it could be greater if military spending is exempted from the automatic federal budget cuts.

The district has debt service obligations totaling approximately $2.2 million annually, which includes payments toward the sales tax revenue bonds, general obligation bonds and the Apple computer lease.

No significant changes are proposed in the activity fund, which shows estimated revenues and spending of 450,000.

Revenues in the nutrition fund are estimated at $875,600 and expenses are estimated at $950,000, leaving an ending fund balance of $223,698.79.

At its March 13 meeting, the school board will set a date and time for a public hearing on the budget proposal in April. By law, the district must approve a budget prior to April 15.

Personnel report

Under the personnel report, the board approved the employment of Dayna McReynolds as permanent part-time custodian at the high school at an hourly rate of $15.34 and approved the employment of Tina Bartels as business manager and board secretary at a salary of $66,000, effective March 18.

The report also lists six open positions for certified staff and three coaching positions.

Vacancies currently posted are for full-time positions in middle school language arts, secondary vocal music, high school special education and high school special education associate. Part-time positions are posted for high school language arts and middle school instrumental music.

Vacant coaching positions are for assistant varsity volleyball, assistant girls varsity basketball and assistant varsity football.

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