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By THOMAS SCHMITT
Correspondent 

Spring Cove Looking at 3% Tax Increase

 


The Spring Cove School Board’s Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday, June 17, ended up being quite lengthy when the topic of discussion came to the proposed final millage rates and proposed final tax hike for the 2019-20 school year.

Originally proposed was a 3.2 percent hike in the tax rate, or a .3426 mill increase to taxpayers. When discussion of the tax hike began, however, different sentiments were expressed.

“We have kept a stable budget,” Boardmember Jim Butler said. “We have also made a great deal of improvements in the district. We have watched expenditures. There is no way we can make this a zero budget deficit. It is not possible.”

The district is facing $619,000 more in expenditures in the upcoming year.

“With the increasing costs we will continue to face, taxes will continue to increase,” Amy Acker-Knisely, board vice president, said.

The budget at the previous school board meeting was referred to as a bare-bones budget. The district will be facing a $111,000 increase in employee retirement costs and employee health care costs have taken a huge jump.

“Our tax base is not increasing like some local districts in the county,” Brian Gahagan, board president, said. “I definitely would support a 3.2 percent increase. Updating 30 year old textbooks is expensive.”

Business Manager Kathy Hazenstab pointed out that a 3.2 percent increase for a taxpayer with a $100,000 home would be looking at a $34.60 increase for the year. At a 3 percent increase, they would face a $32.12 per year increase, she said.

“It is possible that those residences eligible and utilizing the Homestead Act or Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program may have their tax bill wiped out,” Hazenstab said.

Superintendent Dr. Betsy Baker pointed out that the district has cut staff over the past few years and the amount of grants received by the district has grown incredibly. Other expensive projects which the district must face soon include a new Central High School parking lot.

Still, other board members threw tax hikes of 2.5% to 3.0% to the original 3.2% proposal out for discussion. Some board members felt that showing tax payers a smaller percentage hike, may mean virtually no difference in taxes paid, but it would show a good faith effort to keep costs down by the board.

Finally Knisely proposed an increase of a 3.0% tax hike be brought up for the vote at next weeks school board meeting. This is what will be recommended for the vote and it will represent an increase of .3212 mills. The total budget for the district is $27,988,089.

Dr. Baker announced that at this year's senior awards assembly , 35 seniors received scholarship awards totaling more than $70,000 , which is approximately $20,000 higher than last year. Spring Cove S.D. also just received notice that they have advanced to the final round of the 2019 America's Farmers Grow Rural Education grant process. Winners will be announced by August1. If the district is awarded the funds, they will further efforts to create Innovation Labs in Spring Cove Elementary and Central High School.

The next regular board meeting will be Monday June 24, with an executive session for safety and security purposes held at 6:30. All board meetings are held at 7pm in the Administrative Office Board Room.

 

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